Backgrounder Article from  Canadian Space Agency


How it works

Astroskin, developed by Carré Technologies of Montreal, Quebec, uses integrated, non-invasive sensors to continuously record astronauts' heart and breathing rates, electrical activity of the heart (electrocardiograms), blood pressure, breathing volume, skin temperatures, physical activity levels, and blood oxygen levels. This information will be valuable for a number of human health experiments conducted on the International Space Station (ISS).

Data collected will be sent from the ISS to ground servers for data management and analysis.

Astroskin will be integrated into the ISS's communications systems using additional Canadian technology: a Q7 processor card developed by Xiphos Technologies (Montreal, Quebec).

Industrial success stories

The Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) Space Technology Development Program (STDP) provides initial funds for breakthrough technologies to enhance the competitiveness and capabilities of Canada's space sector as a whole. Through STDP, the CSA helps Canadian businesses develop and launch their innovative technology globally in the highly competitive fields of space and biomedical technologies.

The CSA has previously invested $1.86 million to build and test bio-monitoring sensors for a prototype of Astroskin. This early investment contributed to advancing the research and development of their technology leading to a commercially available product known as Hexoskin, which is used for remote/mobile health monitoring, and sports performance up to the Olympic level.

A second Canadian company, Calm Technologies Inc. of Kingston, Ontario, has been subcontracted by Carré to provide engineering support for sending the technology to space.

Since 2000, the CSA has invested $896,000 in STDP funding for the development and commercialization of Xiphos' flight-proven miniature processing products, such as the Q7 processor card that will be used to integrate Astroskin into the ISS's communications system. Previous versions of the processor card have been used for integrating OSTEO-4, a mini-science lab originally developed by Calm Technologies for the CSA and adapted by NASA to study bone cells on the ISS.

Social Benefits to Canadians

Astroskin has the potential to support terrestrial medical and research activities requiring continuous health monitoring using an integrated suite of biosensors.

Astroskin can also potentially help patients who require continuous monitoring of their vital signs at home and help ensure the safety of workers in harsh and strenuous environments such as mines, industrial platforms and factories.

Since 2013, scientists in more than 15 countries are conducting projects involving Carré's Hexoskin, including examining its effectiveness in monitoring patients undergoing cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation.

More specifically, Hexoskin is undergoing testing to assess its effectiveness in remotely monitoring patients suffering from angina and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition to being watched over in the comfort of their homes, these patients are at a reduced risk of readmission to the hospital.

In the realm of sleep medicine, the U.S Naval Research Institute is using Hexoskin in a sleep health study for military populations, while Canadian scientists have developed and validated an algorithm to measure sleep quality.

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