Sunday, 5 August 2012

Developing an App for Health Application

I have spent the last few weeks working on developing an app for ECG monitoring. I haven't posted progress on it for a while as I have been busy but I will hopefully cover much of what I have done so far. 

I have narrowed down my topic to secure data sharing in cloud computing. I will be targeting to publish a paper in the 'Health Information Science and Systems' journal. Currently there is a growing need for patients to monitor their health wherever they are. In particular, a lot of people need to monitor their heart regularly to prevent problems such as cardiac arrhythmias. There are many heart activity monitors that are currently available today. For this project, I was given the 'Alive Heart Rate and Activity Monitor' which streams live electrocardiogram(ECG) data via bluetooth. The patient has to connect sensors to their body and start the monitor and then they can continue to carry on with their daily lives while the device monitors ECG of the patient. 

My goal was to develop an iPad app that receives this data via bluetooth and allows the patient to store this data to the cloud at regular intervals. First the patient connects the sensors and starts the monitor. The iPad app then must receive this data via bluetooth by the tap of a button. The patient can then customise information in the app such as length of periodic interval, etc and then tap the 'Upload data' button which will then send this data to the cloud via web services. The doctor, patient, nurse and/or other parties who have permission to access patient data and determine whether there are problems with the patient. This allows the doctor to be in a remote location and monitor the patient and doesn't require the patient to come to a hospital unless urgently required.

The past few weeks I have been working on implementing a simple working version of this. However, I stumbled upon an issue where iOS devices do not support the type of bluetooth connection that was supported in the heart monitor. The heart monitor only supported the Bluetooth SPP (see The iOS devices does not include support for this (cf. After further research, there was another way, and this involved registering for the 'Made for iPod' program (, gaining approval and then adding an additional Mac chip into the monitor. This was unfeasible since this is additional overhead on the patient side. After consulting with peers, another method was to jailbreak the iPad and installing a BTStackGPS program which allows streaming of bluetooth data via SPP. Currently, I have still yet to try this method. 

After consulting with my supervisor, another workaround was to use another tablet. I was provided an Eee Pad which provides an Android based platform. After looking through the API's, Android provided a comprehensive API for bluetooth and had good support for Bluetooth SPP. I have successfully implemented  a simple working app that reads live streams from the Heart Monitor.

This week I will attempt to decipher the meaning of the streamed bytes and extract useful information from the stream. I will then provide a button that will send this information to the cloud via web services. For testing purposes, I will use a local database and use Apache Tomcat to host the web services and run the web services and the Eee Pad app will call the web services to the localhost server. I will also attempt to come up with a data model to enable secure data sharing.

I will continue to post regular updates as they occur.