NASA performs cardiac monitoring of astronauts to ensure their health, performance, and safety during space missions. The ECG monitor required for this has to be wearable by both, men and women (NASA has a sizeable proportion of women astronauts) and usable for an extended period of time. The ECG monitor needs to work without any skin preparation such as shaving, skin abrasion and/ or gel application that is required for a traditional ECG device. Astronauts cannot have the luxury of a nurse prepping their skin and the ability to throw away disposable wet electrodes after each usage in the space flight!
NimbleHeart Inc., a Silicon Valley startup, was developing something similar with its vision to address the need for long-term cardiac monitoring of at-risk population. NASA found that NimbleHeart’s product provided clinical quality ECG signals reliably over multiple usages on men and women with the desired performance. NimbleHeart’s prototype was also comfortable to NASA test subjects and felt snug throughout the testing with very little or no noticeable electrode movement. After evaluating all the available technologies, NASA granted NimbleHeart the prestigious contract in Oct’14 to develop 12 lead harnesses for monitoring of space crewmembers. NimbleHeart delivered first versions of male and female dry electrode-based 12 lead harnesses in April’15.
NimbleHeart’s dry electrodes are custom designed low impedance snap on electrodes that are comfortable on the skin. The principle technical difficulty in measuring the ECG using reusable or dry electrodes lies in establishing stable electrical contact with the skin. NimbleHeart’s 12 lead ECG harness is a patent pending design that minimizes motion artifacts by applying the right amount of sheer and normal forces using a combination of biocompatible materials that keep the sensors in place on the body. The harness comes in multiple sizes and is designed to work with men and women of different shapes/ sizes to acquire clinically accurate ECG data.
NimbleHeart was founded in 2012 by Ms. Sonal Tambe- a wireless industry expert and an ex-Apple technologist- and Dr. Pramod Deshmukh- an Electrophysiologist and an active researcher in the area of Coronary Heart Diseases. NimbleHeart has also developed 1 and 3 lead harnesses with built-in ECG acquisition unit and accelerometer that transmit beat-by-beat ECG and activity data over Bluetooth Low Energy interface (using a patent pending profile) to an iPad or an iPhone.