Project update 1 of 8
We are happy to announce that our campaign for E3K is now live! Our E3K platform is an open-source framework for building biosensing and robotics projects.
The E3K platform, as the name suggest, is a set of five modules: a wireless Data Communication and Processing Unit (DCPU) module, three Biosensors (ECG, EMG, EEG), and a Kinetics sensor (IMU).
One major challenge that all of us face while carrying out research or conducting experiments is the collection of data from an experimental setup, which is dependent on the performance of the sensors. With E3K platform, we want to address this challenge so that students and researchers can put their energy towards solving the core problem at hand and not in preparing the experiment.
We have been eagerly awaiting this campaign. After over a year of concentrated work on design, development and testing of the device, we are delighted to present you this masterpiece which will make you fall in love with developing and building projects using bio-sensors.
Our journey started in 2019 when we were preparing for a non-profit summer camp for around 100 high school students. The aim was to make students understand the integration of software, hardware along with programming to solve the real-world medical problems. During this process, we worked on developing bio-sensing and robotics projects for the students. We focused on three of the most prominent biosensors, namely Electromyography (EMG), Electrocardiography (ECG) and Electroencephalography (EEG).
As we started exploring components for the projects, it became evident that a complete solution at a reasonable price was not available. On one hand, we found some low-cost providers but the quality was quite poor. On the other hand, we found a quality provider but the cost was prohibitive for the student community. To add to our miseries, the custom connector for the cable forced us to purchase their cables which (alongside with any extension boards) had exorbitant pricing. With no other choice left, we ended-up purchasing sensors from multiple companies. To integrate them, we had to understand different communication protocols and electrical characteristics of each of the sensors and build connection boards for various types of connectors.
Motivated by the experience, we began developing a device which would allow students/researchers to spend their time on learning and solving real problems rather than worrying about compatibility and sourcing issues.
Milestone 1: Understanding the science
Before starting device development, we tried to learn as much as possible about the fundamentals of these signals. We read many research papers on how the signals are generated in the body and how to measure them, which we then discussed with field experts.
Milestone 2: Sensing on a breadboard
Once the fundamentals were clear, we implemented the theory on a breadboard. After testing a few circuits, we finalized the circuit for EMG, ECG, and EEG with an optimal signal to noise ratio. These circuits were then compared with the commercially available devices for reliability and performance.
Milestone 3: Designing the core
When the sensing circuit was finalized and satisfactorily tested, we moved on to designing the core of the platform. As these signals are prone to noise (especially AC noise), wireless communication was an essential feature. Moreover, for enabling remote sensing and IoT applications, WiFi was required. Keeping these parameters in mind, we designed a Data Communication and Processing Unit (DCPU) which can be programmed via Arduino IDE.
Milestone 4: Firmware and GUI
We then developed the firmware for the DCPU that can capture the data from various sensors and send it to the PC. In order to understand these signals, visualization is very important. Therefore, we developed a lightweight and intuitive GUI that communicates with DCPU and plots the sensor data.
Milestone 5: First integrated prototype
After that, we designed a circuit board integrating the DCPU and all the sensors. Moreover, we ensured the use of standard connectors for which the accessories are easily available in the market. This enables the users to integrate the platform into their existing projects or develop new with ease.
Milestone 6: Final PCB
We carried out thorough testing of the prototype and further optimized the design.