Posted November 2, 2015

Go and create your own health wearable

Dutch startup Totem has today presented the developer edition of their Smart Health Sensor, a wearable device full of sensors that can be used for research, therapy and personal health purposes. Also they released all digital files a person needs to create their own version. Home made versions of Totems invention could be around even before they launch their own device commercially. Totem also is a finalist in a Unicef wearables competition.

We wrote about the Smart Health Sensor before. It contains among others an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a temperature sensor. Then it was in the development stage, now it's finalized. 100 prototypes have been manufactured which are as close to the commercial version as it gets. 'You can actually use this version and developers can go to if they want to lend a sample and make apps that use it, says inventor and entrepreneur Diderik van Wingerden.

On the same website files are now available that represent the electronics, the software source code and design files. All of those are free to use and free to build upon. Anyone can use them to make a health sensor of their own, using the original files or changed versions. All digital files come with a license that obliges a developer to publish their adapted versions under the very same license. This way open technology can develop almost by itself, to the advantage of all involved.

Van Wingerden: 'Open technology has proven itself in software: Linux runs the majority of websites and servers in the world. Here the open model has accelerated innovation to a great extent. The question now is: can we take this model from the world of bits and bytes into the world of atoms. Most wearables, like Fitbit and Apple Watch, are closed systems. I believe our system can generate more and better apps and do a better job of combatting diseases.' (For more on open technology see our last posting on de Health Sensor or this one from Diderik himself.)


Van Wingerden himself is doing pilot projects with various organizations, such as the Hague University of Applied Sciences HHS and the Sophia Rehabilitation Centre. These two together have has already developed a prototype of an app that helps Parkinson patients who suffer from the phenomenon of 'freezing.' This means they have difficulty starting a movement. Sometimes all they need is a cue, like a sound signal. 'A smartphone app combined with the sensors in the Smart health Sensor could provide such a cue,' says Van Wingerden.

He is also working on sports applications with a Dutch sports organization, on apps in production technology with a Dutch university, and on more medical projects with parties from the US and UK.

Meanwhile Totem's health sensor is running in 'Wearables  for Good,' a Unicef competition for technology that has the potential to change vulnerable children's lives. The Smart Health Sensor was one of 250 entrants and is now one of ten finalists. Among the competitors are a malaria alert bracelet for infants, a water purification band, and an ear-worn pneumonia monitor. In november two winners will be announced. They will receive $15,000 and incubation and mentoring from UNICEF.

About Herbert Blankesteijn

Herbert Blankesteijn is a technology journalist from the Netherlands who has written for many prominent Dutch newspapers. He presented and directed television and radio programmes and has 10 books to his name. Herbert is interested in nascent fields such as 3D printing, drones, robotics and the private space business.