Samsung engineers have developed an eHealth system that will use a smartphone or tablet to monitor a user’s brain activity to warn of an impending stroke.

The two-part prototype system, called Early Detection Sensor & Algorithm Package (EDSAP), consists of a headset covered in sensors that records electrical impulses in the brain; and a mobile app with an algorithm that analyses the brainwaves and, in less than a minute, determines the likelihood of a stroke. The objective is to provide early warning so that those at risk can visit the doctor for a proper diagnosis with sufficient time to prevent the damaging consequences of a stroke.

According to the WHO, globally 15 million people suffer from a stroke each year, of which 66% are fatal or leave the person with permanent physical disabilities. According to the South African Heart and Stroke Foundation, in SA there are 240 strokes every day or 10 every hour.

Samsung’s project began two years ago when a group of Samsung smartphone and washing machine engineers took their stroke detection idea to Samsung’s Creativity Lab (C-Lab), a division that helps Samsung employees turn creative or quirky ideas into potentially commercial products.

“We approached neurologists, asking them whether this was feasible,” said project lead, Se-hoon Lim. “They were dismissive, but we wanted to give it a go. Health-related wearable devices are becoming more and more complex, meaning their capabilities are growing increasingly sophisticated.”

“We may be young today, but one day we’ll enter the over-40 age bracket, when stroke becomes a more pressing concern,” continued Lim.

The Samsung team have improved current medical methods with the headset, which is made from a conductive and comfortable rubber-like material that doesn’t require a saline solution rubbed onto the user’s head. There are plans down the line to use the versatile rubber material to make other wearables, which could be attached to hairpins or eyeglasses, allowing the user to wear them all the time and monitor their brainwaves constantly.

Other than early stroke detection, the system can also analyse stress and sleep patterns, and there are further plans underway to use it to monitor electrocardiograms. However, EDSAP is still in the prototype phase with clinical trials still required before the technology will be ready for the public.

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