A prototype allows doctors to remotely monitor the performance and comfort of prosthetics.
When we think about the Internet of Things, what tends to come to mind are driverless vehicles and connected appliances. Now, prosthetics and orthotics manufacturer Hanger, together with partner AT&T, is bringing connected functionality to prosthetic devices. Texas-based Hanger has developed a proof-of-concept for what it claims is the industry’s first stand-alone, network-connected device for prosthetic limbs. The prototype attaches to below-the-knee prostheses. Additionally, it syncs directly to the cloud via AT&T’s network without relying on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or a separate mobile device.
The connected prosthesis allows Hanger Clinic, a patient care subsidiary of Hanger, to receive data on prosthetic usage in near real time. The automated data feed can help the clinic keep track of any potential issues impacting prosthesis usage. The prototype combines an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and modem. These tools allow the prosthesis to capture and transmit data about speed of motion, impact force, direction, rotation and more.
The prosthesis comes equipped with an iOS app that allows patients to view their day-to-day progress, such as number of steps taken. The app also includes a video calling feature to allow patients to talk with the clinic about potential issues with their device. Clinicians can use the app to view their patients’ activity levels, and contact those whose user data shows low activity or irregularities. According to AT&T, the technology was designed to be intuitive and seamless. This was necessary, as it will become a physical part of each patient.