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Pulse Arrival Time estimation in a synchronised Body Sensor Network


The Pulse Arrival Time is defined as the time it takes a pulse wave to propagate from the aortic valve to some arterial site, like a finger or a toe. It serves as a valuable indicator for a number of physiological parameters like arterial blood pressure or cardiac output.

The proposed project introduces a system to measure the time between two events occuring on different sensor nodes that are wirelessly connected using Blue- tooth Low Energy. The target scenario is measuring the Pulse Arrival Time as the time between an R-peak in an Electrocardiogram recording and the corresponding pulse wave peak in a Photoplethysmogram recording using a Body Sensor Network.

An algorithm based on the Lightweight Time Synchronisation protocol is implemented to keep the clocks on both nodes synchronised. Events are timestamped on both sensor nodes and the event timestamps of one node are sent to the other where the time interval between a pair of corresponding events is estimated.

The system is implemented on Nordic Semiconductors nRF51 that combines a state of the art ARM Cortex-M0 based microcontroller with a Bluetooth Low Energy compatible radio in one System on a Chip.

The system is evaluated by calculating the error in time between measured values obtained from the system and a number of reference values extracted from clinical recordings. The resulting mean error of 15.42 ± 2.59μs suggests the effectiveness of the proposed solution.

Illustration of PAT in synchronised ECG/PPG recordings

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Viktor Schlüter
Florian Knopp
Marcin Bosk
Jonathan Schostak