Integration of vital signs sensing systems into office chair

Background of the project

Monitoring and enhancing vitality in the workplace have become a very important need to which (electronic) technology can contribute. By integrating sensors (and potentially feedback) in furniture and objects in the workplace employees can be supported in a comfortable, unobtrusive way. Imec and TNO at Holst Centre are developing technologies which can support this by measuring vital signs in an office chair. This has resulted in two separate systems with first prototypes available. The next step would be to investigate the possibilities to combine these two systems into one and integrate these into a single chair. The project asks for students of different backgrounds and will therefore take a multidisciplinary approach.

What will you be doing?

The students will assess the technologies as currently available including piezoelectric and piezoresistive sensors (TNO) as well as capacitive ECG and bioimpedance (imec). They will investigate the options to combine the different sensing systems into one device. This includes investigation into combing the different sensor modalities, the electronical readout including firmware and the software to manage data and control the system. The students will investigate the possible difficulties that could arise due to the current limits and demands of both systems and come up with an integration plan. This includes an assessment of how the two systems can be combined together but also include an assessment of the options of these technologies into a more complex 3D shape (chair). The students will create a first prototype of this device to enable to reference the developed technologies with commercially available devices like a wrist watch, breathing belt and ECG wearables. The students will assess the various information channels on resolution and data quality and study potential interference of channels when applied in a multimodal setup. To do so the students will set up and execute volunteer tests.

You will be working in a multidisciplinary team at Holst Centre and will have access to the Work Place Vitality Hub (WPVH) at the High Tech Campus in which the community is promoting vitality in the workplace by collaboration, communication and research and development. You will be reporting to your supervisors at TNO and imec as well as the WPVH network.

What do we require of you?

For this project multiple students are required with a different background. Generally speaking, you should be an ambitious master student or a finishing applied sciences bachelor student with both scientific and practical skills looking for an internship of at least 6-9 months. You are pro-active and independent, and a good team player. Good communication skills in English is expected.

You will be part of a motivating and enthusiastic team on non-contact sensing. General tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Background/literature research on vital signs for vitality (stress, performance, health)

  • Building a research setup to assess the multimodal sensor system with available sensor mats

  • Perform experiments to collect data with mono- and multimodal sensor systems

  • Design a proposal for an integrated piece of furniture comprising selected sensor modalities

  • Evaluate the outcome to give feedback for further development

  • Participate in group meetings, provide feed-back, discuss results, and propose solutions to various challenging aspects

  • Write technical internship report

We are looking for people from various backgrounds to work together in a group within this multidisciplinary project:

Biomedical Engineering

You have a background in biomedical engineering specialized in data analysis. You should have affinity with performing measurements to derive vital signs and have basic programming knowledge to analyze and handle the data streams. You should be able to set up volunteer testing protocols. You should be able to correlate the created technology with the biomedical application.

Electrical Engineering

You are focusing on the software/algorithm side of Electrical Engineering. You should have affinity with development of algorithms for feature extraction and machine learning. You will be looking into the sensors, how you can use the information from the algorithms to further improve these sensors as well as looking into possibilities of sensor fusion between the different modalities.

Computer Science and Engineering

You are a student with a broad knowledge of system engineering. You should be able to combine the two currently available systems in terms of software into a single device. This includes managing of the data flow, creation of the user interface to be used as a control panel, visualization of the data and communications between different part of the system.

Industrial Design

You should have experience with the creation of prototypes and integrating (complex) electronical devices into a complex 3d object. You should be able to understand the requirements of the different sensor modalities and know how they can be integrated into the chair. You should be able to design a system overview for such a system and oversee the creation of the prototype.

Mechanical Engineering

You should be focused on the practical aspects of Mechanical Engineering with a focus of product integration. You have experience with the creation of prototypes and integration of different devices into a complex 3d object. You should be able to model device performance and create a system overview.

What can you expect of your work situation?

The WPVH is a new initiative of imec, TNO, TU/e and Fontys and offers additional network creation and inspiring environment for your internship.

TNO and imec are two legal entities that together compose the Holst Centre as research institute on electronics. Themes are printed electronics, thin film electronics, chip design and artificial intelligence. Holst Centre is focusing on new technology development and the applications it can serve from health care, consumer products and automotive. Vitality at the workplace is one of them for which the living lab of the Workplace Vitality is installed in a separate building at the High Tech Campus. We work for a variety of customers: governments, the SME sector, large companies, service providers and non-governmental organizations. Working together on new knowledge, better products and clear recommendations for policy and processes. In everything we do, impact is the key.

What can TNO and imec at Holst Centre offer you?

You want to work on the precursor of your career; a work placement gives you an opportunity to take a good look at your prospective future employer. Holst Centre is at the forefront of new electronic technologies and its applications. The collaboration in Workplace Vitality Hub offers moreover a unique opportunity to benefit from both Holst Centre’s expertise and the workplace applications.  That’s why we attach a great deal of value to your personal and professional development. You will, of course, be properly supervised during your work placement and be given the scope for you to get the best out of yourself. Naturally, we provide suitable work placement compensation.

Has this vacancy sparked your interest?

Then please feel free to apply to this vacancy by sending us an e-mail! For further questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

Contact: Lars Rikken ( +31641099446), Bernard Grundlehner (, Margreet de Kok ( +31651815368)