Hugo Silva is a researcher at the IT – Instituto de Telecomunicações in Portugal and is a co-founder of PLUX – Wireless Biosignals, a company focused on creating cutting edge technologies for the healthcare and quality of life sectors.
The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement has been driving countless innovations and stimulating an age of creative engineering that is greatly expanding. The next wave is just around the corner and goes by the name BITalino, a DIY development kit that wants the world to be a bit more… physiological. As of today, you can use it to create not only your own body signals monitor but do much more.
BITalino is a low-cost toolkit that allows anyone from students to professional developers to create projects and applications with physiological sensors. Out of the box, BITalino already integrates easy to use software & hardware blocks with sensors for electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), electrodermal activity (EDA), an accelerometer, & ambient light. Imagination is the limit; each individual block can be snapped off and combined to prototype anything you want. You can connect others sensors, including your own custom designs.
Biosignals have been a part of many medical and quality-of-life applications for many decades; ECG and EEG are by far the best-known modalities. Today, biosignals are an increasingly popular topic within the global community, and while medicine and biomedical engineering are classical disciplines where the topic is amply covered, today biosignals are a matter of interest in areas including computer science, informatics, electrical engineering, among others. Regardless of the context, the use of biosignals in experimental activities and practical projects is heavily bounded by the cost and limited access to adequate support materials.
BITalino has a software for visualization and recording, and also a set of programming APIs, a biosignal processing toolbox, and a framework for real time data acquisition. The hardware consists of a modular wireless biosignal acquisition system, with 6 analog input channels, 4 digital inputs, 4 digital outputs, up to 10-bit resolution and up to 1000Hz sampling rates, that can be used to support biosignal-based applications, interface with other devices or perform rapid prototyping of end-user applications, and is available in three flavors:
- Board: the BITalino is used as-is with no modifications, enabling people to simply experiment with the onboard sensors to support their activities, observe, record and have uncomplicated and readily available biosignals in real time, (Figure 1);
- Plugged: plugs are added to the BITalino and the sensors are separated from the BITalino main board, leaving only the control, power, communication and auxiliary connectivity blocks, enabling people to interchangeably use different sensor combinations (Figure 2);
- Freestyle: all the parts are detached from the BITalino main board, enabling people to combine them in any way that best suits their project ideas and applications (Figure 3).
BITalino resulted from the work of researchers at the IT – Instituto de Telecomunicações (http://pia.lx.it.pt) in collaboration with PLUX – Wireless Biosignals (http://www.plux.info), and multiple BITalino-based projects have already started to come to fruition. From an ECG monitoring Playstation controller to a “health”-status tweetting flower, the BITalino fever is catching up (Figure 4); step onto the bandwagon at: http://www.bitalino.com