Wireless health monitoring system shows promise in clinical trials

DIna Katabi 2

Over the past year MIT CSAIL has worked with Novartis to test a novel technology for passive, contactless monitoring of physiological signals that may be used to monitor clinical trial patients in their homes.

Developed by Professor Dina Katabi and her students, the technology consists of a Wi-Fi-like device that transmits low-powered radio signals and uses machine learning algorithms to analyze their reflections and produce physiological metrics. The device can gather data on patient mobility, gait, breathing, heart rate, sleep stages, sleep apnea, and other metrics without requiring the patient to wear sensors or change their behavior in any way.

Novartis and the MIT team explored the potential use of this technology in clinical trials to collect digital biomarkers, both existing and new, and potentially allow continuous, real-time monitoring of patients in their own homes.

 As part of the collaboration, Novartis deployed the technology in a Novartis facility, as well as in a life sciences facility with a living lab, sleep monitoring, motion and behavior monitoring. Individuals were studied for multiple days in the lab, and their motion, breathing, sleep, and behavior were measured using the technology and compared against existing standards for such measurements.

Comparison to the gold standard shows that the technology has the potential to capture movement and physiological metrics, without being intrusive or requiring changes in people’s behaviors.

“Innovative machine learning and digital solutions, like ours, promise to change how clinical trial patients are conveniently monitored. Our collaboration with Novartis has demonstrated the potential of our touchless continuous monitoring devices, and we are thrilled about continuing to make a difference in clinical research with our cutting edge digital technology,” said Katabi, Director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing.

“This collaboration with Professor Katabi’s team at MIT exemplifies what like-minded academic and industry innovators can achieve in advancing exciting new digital technologies out of the laboratory and onto a path toward possible regulatory acceptance,” said Jay Bradner, President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

Katabi and Novartis are now considering next steps for further examination of this promising technology.