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Digital assistant acts as breathing coach

German research institute has come up with a PDA that measures your respiration.

Respisens in a shirt
The Respisens system fits into a T-shirt.

Ever found yourself peddling along madly and forgetting to breathe? If you have a respiratory illness, that can cause more than a minor glitch on the bike path. To monitor patients' inhalations and exhalations, scientists at Germany's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research institute have conceived of a digital assistant that behaves something like a pulmonary specialist along for the ride.

The Respisens system registers the pace and strength of the wearer's breathing. Measurements are taken with the aid of respiration straps--conductors integrated into a T-shirt across the patient's chest and stomach that emit an electric signal when expanded. The raw data is transmitted to a matchbook-size module that records and processes it, then transmits the information to a cell phone or a PDA. If the value fails to reach a predefined level, the system sets off an alarm.

Fraunhofer is showing off its innovation using a bicycle guide as an example. Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

In addition to serving as a health aid for athletes, the battery-charged PDA can be used in the remote care of patients, allowing a doctor to check the data and gauge how a patient is progressing. If necessary, for example, the physician can adjust the medication dosage on the basis of the data obtained.

Researchers from Fraunhofer Institutes for Software and Systems Engineering and Integrated Circuits will present the technology at the CeBit trade show in Hanover, Germany, using bicycle guides as an example. The show runs March 4 through 9.

In addition to monitoring respiration, the sample PDA can act as a navigation device, suggesting bike routes and places of interest with the aid of video clips.