When Steve Sutphen from University of Alberta Department of Computing went to Mount Kilimanjaro at the end of October, he was studying the performance of a medical monitor worn by another climber: a tiny specially designed wrist watch called “wireless wearable physiological monitor” (WWPM).
Sutphen made the rugged journey the week of Oct. 28 – Nov. 10 primarily to give technical assistance to the Canadian Space Agency’s Martin Lebeuf, who volunteered to wear the WWPM device during a climb to raise money for the Arthritis Society.
The watch-sized tele-health unit is designed to monitor vital signs and transmit them to a patient’s doctor or health-care provider over the Internet. The device isn’t designed for wilderness use, but a few modifications on Sutphen’s part ensured that it successfully monitored both his and Lebeuf’s vital signs as they ascended the 4,600-metre peak.
Sutphen used a satellite phone, powered by a battery pack instead of a plug-in, to transmit the data thousands of miles away to the central server at the U of A. Each day, for 15 minutes only in order to conserve power, Sutphen would transmit the information.