"By developing new biosensor hardware enabling passive and minimally obtrusive sensing, we aim to deploy technology that provides new insights to ultimately improve the lives of people living with dementia." Timothy Constandinou
UK DRI Group Leader
Dr Timothy Constandinou leads the Next Generation Neural Interfaces (NGNI) Lab, is Deputy Director of the Centre for Bio-inspired Technology and Reader in Neural Microsystems at Imperial College London. Obtaining his PhD in Electronic Engineering in 2005, he went on to specialise in medical device technology for brain disorders, such as biosensors. As a Group Leader at the UK DRI Care Research & Technology Centre at Imperial, Timothy will lead an exciting programme of developing innovative hearables and unobtrusive radar biosensors to empower next generation dementia care.
1. At a glance
Developing new devices for home monitoring aimed at helping people living with dementia
Dr Timothy Constandinou and his team are developing new miniaturised devices that can accurately and unobtrusively sense movements, vital signs and monitor the behaviour of people living with dementia. They will integrate these into the ‘Healthy Home system’, providing data about their brain activity, movement, location, breathing and heart rate.
One approach involves developing small devices that can detect an individual’s movements at sub-centimetre accuracy, which they hope will enable the detection of falls, distress, or disrupted sleep patterns. These may sense tiny air fluctuations connected with their movement or breathing – or be embedded in furniture to detect subtle changes e.g. heart rate.
The researchers are also exploring devices that can allow the home monitoring of brain activity. They have previously developed an earpiece that allows tracking of a person’s brain, heart and breathing function. The team will now investigate whether adding auditory stimuli to this technology can help improve an individual’s sleep and thinking abilities.
Timothy and his group will also investigate an exciting new approach for treating dementia symptoms through brain stimulation. They will create a wearable device that can be managed by people and their caregivers in the home, which can both deliver harmless electrical impulses to areas of the brain and track its effects through an electroencephalography (EEG) monitor placed on the head.
2. Scientific goals
This UK DRI programme, led by Dr Timothy Constandinou, will focus on the application of miniaturised low-power devices to support reliable home monitoring over long periods. The inability to characterise dementia in the home with direct measures of brain activity or descriptions of sleep and behaviour is a key technological challenge. The team will produce safe, reliable and usable technology to overcome this. One focus will be on developing unobtrusive ways to passively monitor behaviour accurately in the home such as through Ultra-wide band (UWB) impulse radar. A person’s movement can be monitored with sub-centimetre accuracy that promises sensitivity to agitation, circadian disruption and the occurrence of falls. A key feature of this technology is that it allows for non-contact, completely unobtrusive sensing. Two applications will be explored: (a) dynamic through-the-air sensing of movement and respiration; and (b) stationary sensing of physiology such as heart rate and respiration through devices embedded in furniture.
A second focus will be on home measures of brain activity, which will unlock a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities. The researchers will develop a device for home use in dementia, which will allow low cost, continuous, home monitoring of brain activity using sparsely sampled EEG. The team is well-placed to do this through their expertise in ‘Hearable’ technology. This low energy technology allows brain, cardiac and respiratory function to be continuously monitored remotely using miniature sensors housed in an inconspicuous earpiece. Acoustic stimulation can also be delivered through Hearable technology, allowing them to test whether the brain network dynamics important for sleep and cognition can be modulated by carefully timed auditory stimuli that are phase-locked to brain activity.
Dr Timothy Constandinou and his team will investigate the optimal way to integrate non-invasive transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) with a wearable EEG monitor. The goal is to produce a system that can be managed by people living with dementia, and their caregivers in the home, to better enable the sustained administration of clinically effective doses of stimulation and potentially improve cognition, behaviour and sleep.
Main objectives and research goals:
1. To develop passive low-cost ways of sensing movement, vital signs and monitoring behaviour in the home, including the application of ultra-wide band (UWB) radar.
2. To develop unobtrusive miniature devices that allow low-cost, continuous home monitoring of brain activity using sparsely sampled electroencephalography (EEG).
3. To integrate the new technology into the Healthy Home system, providing synchronised multi-modal data including EEG, movement, location, respiration, and heart rate.
3. Team members
Prof Danilo Mandic (Professor of Signal Processing)
Dr Ian Williams (Research Associate)
Timo Lauteslager (PhD Student)
Within UK DRI:
- Prof Derk-Jan Dijk, UK DRI at Care Research & Technology at Imperial - Innovative biosensor technology for unobtrusive sleep monitoring
- Prof William Wisden, UK DRI at Imperial
Beyond UK DRI:
- Prof Tor Sverre Lande, University of Oslo - Coherent ultra-wideband radar
Biosensor technologies, medical devices, assistive technology, research tools
Electrophysiology, radar sensing, neuromodulation, physiological monitoring
7. Key publications
Lauteslager, T., Tømmer, M., Lande, T.S. and Constandinou, T.G., 2019. Coherent UWB radar-on-chip for in-body measurement of cardiovascular dynamics. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, IEEE.
Ahmadi, N., Cavuto, M.L., Feng, P., Leene, L.B., Maslik, M., Mazza, F., Savolainen, O., Szostak, K.M., Bouganis, C.S., Ekanayake, J. Jackson, A. and Constandinou, T.G., 2019, March. Towards a distributed, chronically-implantable neural interface. In 2019 9th International IEEE/EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering (NER) (pp. 719-724). IEEE.
Luan, S., Williams, I., Maslik, M., Liu, Y., De Carvalho, F., Jackson, A., Quiroga, R.Q. and Constandinou, T.G., 2018. Compact standalone platform for neural recording with real-time spike sorting and data logging. Journal of Neural Engineering, 15 (4), p.046014.
Liu, Y., Luan, S., Williams, I., Rapeaux, A. and Constandinou, T.G., 2017. A 64-channel versatile neural recording SoC with activity-dependent data throughput. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, 11(6), pp.1344-1355.
Ramezani, R., Liu, Y., Dehkhoda, F., Soltan, A., Haci, D., Zhao, H., Firfilionis, D., Hazra, A., Cunningham, M.O., Jackson, A., Constandinou, T.G., and Degenaar, P., 2018. On-probe neural interface ASIC for combined electrical recording and optogenetic stimulation. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, 12(3), pp.576-588.