Ireland's National Digital Research Center (NDRC) reported 12 million ($3.15 million) in funding for new projects using sensors and mobile technology to manage chronic illness and test the viability of motion-based monitoring using online games.

NDRC aims to translate novel lab-based technologies to address imminent end-user needs for remote care, according to CEO Ben Hurley.

The lead program, HealthPhone, is a web-based system to support the management of chronic illnesses using mobile technology in the home to measure and report on vital patient data including blood pressure, weight and medication levels.

Another project, WellSense, will develop special sensors to measure human body postures which will have applications in sport, dance, yoga, and computer gaming.

Sensors developed by BiancaMed (Dublin) that are integrated into telephone handsets is the underlying technology being tested in everyday, consumer applications.

BiancaMed CEO Conor Hanley told Medical Device Daily that cardiologists working on the HealthPhone project are using the company's non-contact sensor for the automated collection of several vital signs in conjunction with remote weight monitoring.

"Data is automatically collected daily via a mobile phone and viewed in the heart clinic," he said, with the goal of "spot early deterioration so actions can be taken to avoid worsening of the condition and emergency hospitalizations."

Other programs using handsets with the sensors onboard combine exercise with online games to tackle obesity in children.

"FreeGaming" is a mobile phone-based game in which players have to physically move and interact, using their mobile handset, in order to achieve the game's goals, similar to the Nintendo (Tokyo) game Wii.

"Viking Ghost Hunt" is a location-based game requiring users to travel around Dublin, incorporating physical exercise into traditional gaming.

— John Brosky, European Editor