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Top 3 tech developments in 2015

16 Dec 2015

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Research and development is critical for any company or industry. Without which, innovation will stagnate and may cause revenues to fall.

Electronics is one of the industries that invest heavily on R&D, partly because of consumer demands and because technological advancement is one of the main drivers of its growth. EDN Asia reviewed some of the most valuable inventions in the electronics industry, and chose three innovations that made the biggest impact to our readers.

Continue reading to see the top three tech developments in 2015.

1. Contactless ECG monitor ensures driver safety

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have developed a capacitive measurement device to determine driver capability via electrocardiogram (ECG) that makes it possible to continuously monitor cardiac activity and interpret derivations without contacting the skin. Integrated into the driver seat, the system tracks drivers during each trip to detect medical risks and prevent accidents.

Cardiovascular medical emergencies affecting the heart or the blood vessels such as heart attack and cardiac arrhythmia are the main catalysts of sudden incapacitation among drivers causing serious traffic accidents to occur. Potential emergency situations can be identified with an evaluation of the heart's electrical activity, and this is what the innovative is attempting to address.


A capacitive ECG that is integrated in a driving seat is intended to detect signs of fatigue and medical emergencies.

"The non-contact, capacitive ECG measurement device works on the same principle as the classic ECG. That means, we analyse the characteristic course of the ECG and react to the changes to divert a potential emergency situation," explained Andreas Heinig, project leader at Fraunhofer IPMS. "The difference here is that electrodes are not attached to the skin, but rather contact between the electrode and the surface of the body is established through layers of clothing. Typical skin irritations developed during long-time monitoring can therefore be avoided."

The signal is transmitted over metal plates built into the driver seat that form a capacitor with the surface of the body. According to the researchers, the system also operates reliably despite several layers of clothing and the slight movement of the two contact surfaces. Electronic development faces the challenge of being able to separate extremely weak signals from significantly greater interference influences for reliable evaluation.

In order to minimise external electromagnetic interference, researchers have included an internal shield level as well as an outer shield ring on the electrode circuit board and packaged the electrodes also in an electromagnetic shielded casing. In addition, the team under the leadership of Heinig has placed a special electronic circuit in the device to actively eliminate induced charges. This should control voltage fluctuations affecting measurement that are initiated by changes in the distance between the measuring electrode plates in the seat and the skin as well as charges generated through static electricity.

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