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Vol. 80, Issue 6, June 2007, pp. 1230-1238




Pulse Oximeter Fully Powered by Human Body Heat


Tom TORFS*, Vladimir LEONOV* and Ruud J.M. VULLERS**

* IMEC, Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

Tel.: +32-16-28 80 99, e-mail: Tom.Torfs@imec.be, www.imec.be

** IMEC-NL/Holst Centre, High Tech Campus 42, 5656 AE Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Tel.: +31-40-2774009, e-mail: Ruud.Vullers@imec-nl.nl, www.holstcentre.com



Received: 1 March 2007   /Accepted: 19 June 2007   /Published: 25 June 2007


Abstract: The realization of a body-area network demands innovative solutions to efficiently power the wireless sensor nodes that typically consume about 100W of power. Thermoelectric generators (TEGs) harvesting energy from wasted human body heat provide an attractive solution, potentially producing about 30W per square centimeter of human skin. As a proof of concept, a wireless pulse oximeter has been developed that is fully powered by a watch-style TEG using commercial BiTe thermopiles. For a 15 seconds measurement interval, approximately 89W of power is required from the generator, safely within the available 100W power budget. The wireless pulse oximeter therefore achieves full energy autonomy. From a performance/cost perspective, superior results are expected from TEGs made up of MEMS thermopiles which are currently under development.


Keywords: Body area network, Wireless sensor node, Thermoelectric generator, Pulse oximeter


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