Restricted Research - Award List, Note/Discussion Page

Fiscal Year: 2018

2003  The University of Texas at San Antonio  (75821)

Principal Investigator: John, Eugene (Principal Investigator)  

Total Amount of Contract, Award, or Gift (Annual before 2011): $ 441,000

Exceeds $250,000 (Is it flagged?): Yes

Start and End Dates: 1/1/18 - 12/31/21

Restricted Research: YES


Department, Center, School, or Institute: COE ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING  

Title of Contract, Award, or Gift: Ultra Low Power Computing for Next Generation Implantable Smart Cardiac Pacemakers

Name of Granting or Contracting Agency/Entity: Natl Inst of Health

Program Title: N/A
CFDA Linked: Biomedical Research and Research Training


Cardiovascular diseases are one of the major causes of all human deaths. Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia is one among many reasons for cardiovascular diseases. Arrhythmia related human cardiac mortality and morbidity can be reduced by implantable devices known as artificial pacemakers that are designed to monitor the cardiac status and to regulate the beating of the heart. The primary purpose of a pacemaker is to maintain an adequate heart rate by giving an external electrical stimulus when the heart is not functioning properly. Not many years ago, the functionality of a pacemaker was mostly limited to monitoring signals from the heart and assisting its operation via artificial pacing when any predefined abnormality was detected. Recently, manufacturers have started incorporating advance features to make the pacemaker smarter and more user friendly. Similar to the way cell phones have evolved into smart phones, pacemakers are evolving into smart pacemakers. In simple terms a smart pacemaker is a device that can communicate seamlessly with the patients smart phone or integrate easily into the hospital network infrastructure. With low power wireless connectivity, the pacemakers can be programmed to automatically activate alerts to the cardiologist or to the hospital via the connected smart phone or network when an emergency occurs. The wireless connectivity also enables the cardiologist to remotely adjust the settings of the pacemaker to address the emergency or to recommend other corrective measures. Unfortunately the wireless connectivity of the implantable devices opens up the possibility of hacking. In the case of pacemakers a hacker will be able to maliciously reprogram the pacemaker, extract patient data or even shut off the device completely. These device security threats lead to the need for secure communication channels. The major computational load of a current pacemaker is the heart signal processing whereas the future smart pacemaker will introduce new workloads such as complex encryption/decryption, data compression, CRC calculation etc. These added workloads are needed to improve the security and reliability of the pacemakers. All these computationally intensive added workloads will drain the pacemaker battery which can lead to devastating health consequences and will increase the frequency of surgical procedure needed to replace the battery of the device or the implantable device itself. The primary objective of this research is to develop ultra low power functional blocks using low energy computing techniques for next generation implantable smart cardiac devices.

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