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Stanford researchers go from heaven to Earth in 'lifeguard' test

STANFORD, Calif. - Back in 2002, Stanford University engineers Kevin Montgomery, PhD, and Carsten Mundt, PhD, found themselves bored at a conference in Las Vegas. So they did what you'd expect from any researchers stuck in Sin City with frequent thoughts about life in outer space: They headed to a casino, downed a few cocktails and drew up a plan for the ideal physiological monitor for astronauts.

But here's what you wouldn't expect: The pair's scheme has come to life, a result of a Stanford-NASA collaboration to develop the physiological monitor and test it in a gamut of extreme environments. If the device passes NASA muster next year, it will become part of astronauts' wardrobes and will connect them to doctors who can monitor their health in real-time - something outside the realm of possibility given current NASA technology. Meanwhile, the team is using the device, called LifeGuard, to gather physiological data of use to the space program and is exploring terrestrial uses as well.

Today Montgomery, a researcher in the School of Medicine's surgery department, is director of engineering at the Stanford University-NASA National Center for Space Biological Technologies, and Mundt, also a researcher in surgery, is the center's chief hardware engineer. The center picks up where Montgomery and Mundt's previous collaborations with NASA left off.

At the time of the Las Vegas conference, Montgomery and Mundt had created a personal physiological monitor demo for John Hines, manager of the astrobionics program at NASA Ames in nearby Mountain View. "We used the demo to help engineers at NASA Johnson Space Center start figuring out what they'd need for the astronauts. They could play with it and zero in on the requirements," said Montgomery.

Though similar devices existed, none provided the wearability and functionality NASA required. After Montgomery and Mundt received the go-ahead fr
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15-Jun-2004


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