University Park, Pa. --- "Smart" sensors and other technology
developed to monitor machines and prevent system failures can and ought
to be used to prevent sudden cardiac death and broken bones due to osteoporosis,
say researchers at Penn State's Applied Research Laboratory (ARL).
Dr. Robert J. Hansen, ARL chief scientist and associate director, is chairman of a Predictive Diagnostics Team convened to study the possibility that technology developed for machine maintenance could be used to maintain human health. The team is one of eight assembled by Sandia National Laboratory under the sponsorship of the Koop Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Hansen and Dr. David Hall, professor of electrical engineering and senior research associate at ARL, are developing a "roadmap" to identify the crucial steps and time frame required.
Hansen and Hall presented their "roadmap" in a working paper meant to stimulate discussion among the Predictive Diagnostics Team at the Biomedical Technology Roadmap Workshop held in Albuquerque, N.M. during April 21-24.
"We recognize that people are not machines and that this is not an easy problem," Hansen says. Nevertheless, he adds, "it appears from our experience and study that a lot of the techniques developed for the military battlefield and conditioned-based maintenance of machines can be applied to humans."
The same sensors and signal processors, automated reasoning systems and data fusion methods used to create smart weapons and super sensitive surveillance systems, can be used to combat disease, the two researchers say.
Hall predicts that in about five years, a person could go to a physician's office and insert an arm or a leg into an acoustic measuring device that would identify incipient cracks or other flaws in the bone. Although an x-ray can now detect bone flaws, it can also cause radiation-linked side effects.
Using battlefield signal process
Contact: Barbara Hale