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Wireless Sensor Startup Wins UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge

Ping Wang

Ping Wang

Ping Wang, a graduate student in Terry Sejnowski's Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, was part of a UCSD Engineering and Rady School of Business graduate student team that won the university's Entrepreneur Challenge. The students developed wireless sensors that monitor the heart without touching the patient's skin.

Jacobs School of Engineering graduate student Mike Chi developed the technology with other team members, including the Salk's Wang, Yuchen Cao, Mehmet Parlak, and Stephen Chen. The group received $25,000 in cash and $15,000 in legal services to support their start-up company, Cognionics.

Engineers and physicians are increasingly turning to wireless technologies and innovative circuit designs to develop sensors that cut health care costs through better preventive care and shorter hospital stays. Wireless sensors also offer patients more freedom than wired sensors that are attached to machines. The UC San Diego wireless sensor project could lead to unobtrusive heart sensors for long-term cardiac health monitoring.

The sensors record "biopotentials" – tiny voltage signals that appear on the skin surface. Biopotentials emanate from electrically active cells, such as neurons and cardiac cells, and propagate through the conductive media of the human body.

One of the project's goals is to take the sensing technology out of the hospital setting and into the home environment, without constraining the mobility of the patient. The technology would also allow doctors to track cardiac or brain activity during exercise, or to monitor the health of soldiers on the battlefield.