University of Twente Student Theses


Mobilizing Pain Research through Bluetooth Low Energy : Pain at the tips of your fingers.

Slegers, H.F. (2023) Mobilizing Pain Research through Bluetooth Low Energy : Pain at the tips of your fingers.

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Abstract:The NociTRACK system is a tool currently used in pain research in order to analyse the response of humans to electric stimuli at the lowest possible boundary of their pain perception. The system is under active development at the University of Twente, and it is intended to be used at a large scale to allow for analysis of a wide range of subjects, ranging from healthy people to those with chronic pain or other problems with pain sensations. In order to perform these tests at scale, the system requires that tests can be performed using a laptop or tablet at the general practitioner or even at home. Bluetooth Low Energy provides a wireless protocol which allows multiple peripherals to connect simultaneously, and reduces the energy usage of wireless connections considerably. Additionally many mobile devices provide better support for Bluetooth Low Energy. As the NociTRACK system currently only supports Bluetooth Classic, this system must be overhauled to remain relevant to a wide range of devices and experiments in the foreseeable future. At the same time, the applications used to run the experiments are only available on desktop computers. Many physicians, especially those that visit clients, prefer to use a mobile devices or tablets, as they are considerably more portable. Researchers and engineers on the other hand, prefer the desktop environment which is more versatile to develop net experiments and features. For these reasons, an application was developed that can be built to run both on a laptop and a mobile device. To this end, a new Bluetooth module was needed on an existing stimulator, and based on the previous version, a new protocol was designed for with Bluetooth Low Energy. An application was conceptualized which can be used to perform nociceptive experiments by a broad range of operators on a broad range of devices. As developing the entire application was not feasible within the allotted time, a version was developed which can be used to communicate with stimulators through the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol. The application is also designed to provide a basis upon which future developers can add functionality, such as providing predetermined tests to perform at scale, as well as a way for researchers to develop new testing methodologies. Test results indicate that the newly developed wireless protocol is able to fulfill the same functionality as its previous iteration, though performance is hindered through several factors, such as low-level configuration of the Bluetooth connection parameters. For tests not demanding fast performance, the current implementation suffices. The implementation of the application is not cross-platform due to fragmented support for Bluetooth Low Energy across platforms, though care has been taken such that creating an implementation for Android or iOS devices is quite feasible. The current application also successfully provides a workable basis upon which a fully featured test platform can be developed. Based on the results, recommendation have been given for future step to improve the implementations, and what aspects of the system should be developed next in the process.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Programme:Electrical Engineering MSc (60353)
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