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ECU researcher awarded funding from Microsoft

Wednesday, 06 February 2008

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Edith Cowan University (ECU) researcher Dr Alfred Tan has been awarded a $100,000 (US) funding grant from Microsoft to develop a foetal monitoring system utilising 'smart phone' technology.

Dr Tan is one of 14 researchers from around the world awarded funding from Microsoft for research into innovative ways to advance healthcare services and solutions using mobile 'smart phone' technology.

Dr Tan's proposal, Foetal Heart Rate (FHR) and Activity Monitoring via Smart Phones, aims to extend the availability of quality antenatal care to remote and rural Australia, especially amongst the Indigenous communities, using inexpensive FHR monitoring equipment and mobile phone technology.

The proposal is based on research findings that determined poor birth statistics (such as rate of pre-term birth) among the Indigenous population in remote and rural Australia compared with the non-Indigenous population.

"Increased access to antenatal care leads to significantly fewer preterm births among rural and remote Indigenous populations but currently, antenatal care is only available at metropolitan and regional hospitals, hundreds of kilometres away," says Dr Tan.

Dr Tan is developing a mobile phone based foetal heart rate monitor and foetal activity monitoring (FAM) system that can be freely downloaded onto any Microsoft Mobile based 'smart phone'.

"The FHR and FAM system on the mobile phone will allow expecting mothers to track and keep a record of foetal activity in the womb and transmit this data to an Obstetrician or Midwife at an urban or regional health centre," he says.

"Should a preterm birth occur, the system can also track the intensity and duration of contractions and relay this information, together with FHR data to the nearest medical centre."

Dr Tan's innovation aims to significantly improve the survival statistics of Indigenous babies through improving the quality of antenatal care.

Currently Dr Tan is the Co-ordinator of the Mobile Computing course at the School of Computer and Information Science at ECU.

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