Contact-Free Biosignal Acquisition via Capacitive and Ultrasonic Sensors

Roman Kusche*, Fabian John, Marco Cimdins, Horst Hellbruck

*Corresponding author for this work


Contact-free detection of human vital signs like heart rate and respiration rate will improve the patients' comfort and enables long-term monitoring of newborns or bedridden patients. For that, reliable and safe measurement techniques are indispensable. The aim of this work is the development and comparison of novel ultrasonic and capacitive measurement setups, sharing a common hardware platform. Both measurement techniques that are implemented and compared are based on the detection of minor chest wall vibrations in millimeter ranges, due to geometrical thorax changes during respiration and heartbeat activities. After examining the physical measurement conditions and simulating the capacitive sensor, a problem-specific measurement setup is proposed. The system is characterized to be capable of detecting distance changes below \mathrm {2~\mu m} via the ultrasonic sensor and below \mathrm {800~\mu m} via the capacitive sensor. First subject measurements show that the detection of heart activities is possible under ideal conditions and exclusively with the proposed ultrasonic approach. However, the capacitive sensor works reliably for respiration monitoring, even when the subject is fully-clothed and covered with a blanket. The chosen ultrasonic approach is sensitive regarding minor changes of the reflecting surface and therefore has high uncertainty. In contrast, capacitive respiration detection is very reliable. It is conceivable that improvements in the capacitive sensor circuitry will also enable the detection of heart activities. The proposed ultrasonic approach presents current problems of this technique. In contrast to that, the unusual approach of capacitive sensing demonstrates a high potential regarding vital signs acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9097250
JournalIEEE Access
Pages (from-to)95629-95641
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 20.05.2020


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