Heart-on-a-Chip Receives First Prize at 2012 World Embedded Software Competition
Heart-on-a-Chip, an embedded systems platform that was the 2012 Senior Design Project of Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE) students Sriram Radhakrishnan, Varun Sampath, and Shilpa Sarode, received first prize in the High-Tech Medical Service category at the 2012 World Embedded Software Competition held in Seoul, Korea. The platform, originally called Pacemaker Verification System, was developed in the laboratory of Rahul Mangharam, Stephen J. Angello Term Assistant Professor in ESE and included collaborations with Zhihao Jiang and Miroslav Pajic, doctoral students in Computer and Information Science and ESE. The project was awarded first prize in the Penn Engineering school-wide Senior Design Competition in May 2012.
Heart-on-a-Chip is an open platform for cardiac pacemaker testing. Pacemakers are implanted medical devices designed to regulate the heartbeat and have hundreds of thousands of lines of embedded software code for handling patient heart conditions known as arrhythmias. Programming errors are a reality of implanted cardiac pacemakers today. In the past decade, over 600,000 of these devices were recalled, one-third of those due to embedded software issues. The FDA currently does not check software code when approving a device for sale.
To test these software routines and ensure the pacemaker does not drive the heart into an unsafe state, the team developed a virtual heart on a hardware platform, using models defined by extended finite state machines (Timed Automata). The flexibility of these models allows the virtual heart to be automatically programmed to exhibit many common cardiac arrhythmias. Once programmed, the virtual heart can be connected to real pacemakers, and the resulting interactions can be monitored by cardiologists, medical device engineers, and regulatory agencies to ensure that no dangerous pacing patterns occur. The system pushes new boundaries in cardiac device testing, as not only can it show how the heart affects the pacemaker’s operation, but also how the pacemaker can affect the state of the heart.
The World Embedded Software Competition is an annual event for exhibiting student work in the field of embedded systems. Hundreds of projects are chosen to present in the final competition in Seoul in categories ranging from smart vehicles to medical devices. The event aims to foster talent in the field and invite closer collaboration between students, academia, and industry. Students from Penn Engineering also won the WESC in 2010.