Karine Silva, Mariely Lima, André Santos Magalhães, Carla Fafiães and Liliana de Sousa, “Can Dogs Assist Children with Severe Autism Spectrum Disorder in Complying with Challenging Demands? An Exploratory Experiment with a Live and a Robotic Dog” in the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2017 © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Objectives: Prompted by the need to find effective ways to enhance compliance in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and building on the increasing interest in dog-assisted interventions for this population, this study provides an exploratory test on whether dogs may assist children with severe ASD in complying with challenging demands while also decreasing behavioral and cardiovascular distress.

Design: A within-subject design was used. Depending on condition, participants were allowed to engage with a particular stimulus—their preferred toy, a live dog, or a robotic dog—before being exposed to a demanding task in which they had to wait for permission to eat a desired food item (‘‘prohibition task’’). Although inactive, the stimulus remained present during the prohibition task.


D. Dias, N. Ferreira, J.P.S. Cunha, “VitalLogger: An Adaptable Wearable Physiology and Body-Area Ambiance Data Logger for Mobile Applications” 2017 IEEE 14th International Conference on Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks (BSN), pp. 71-74.

Current mobile revolution is leading to an increase of wearable health devices development and consequently a growth in ambulatory monitoring area. These systems can be applied in ambulatory diseases management and diagnosis, personal health monitoring or sports performance enhancement, providing physiological and body-area ambiance data during daily normal activities. Nowadays several devices in the market have this type of technology, being one of them the VitalJacket® (VJ®), a product from Biodevices, S.A. This device is a medical certified smart t-shirt with textile embedded electronics for ambulatory monitoring of electrocardiogram (ECG), Heart Rate (HR) and Accelerometer (Acc) data that is in the market since 2008.

In this work we report the result of a university-company joint R&D effort that aimed to propose a reference extension architecture – called VitalLogger – for VJ® wearable health device that enables sensors seamless “plug-in” to the company product. As a proof of concept of this novel adaptable architecture, we jointly implemented a prototype that extends VJ® technology to incorporate new sensing modules in a seamless way. Both hardware and firmware were re-designed and extended to create a reference extension architecture, enabling to easily adapt different sensing modules according to the user monitoring preference/scenario. Besides the ECG module already incorporated in VJ®, a module with a Blood Oxygen Saturation (SpO2) sensor and an ambiance temperature and relative humidity sensor was developed and added to the extended prototype VitalLogger. This prototype was successfully built and tested, showing excellent results.

The VitalLogger adaptable extension architecture has shown its scalability by enabling seamless “plug-in” sensing modules thus creating the possibility to swift create products with different combinations to adapt to different monitoring scenarios. It will be incorporated in the company future products.


D. Dias, “VitalLogger: An Adaptable Wearable Physiology and Ambiance Data Logger for Mobile Applications”, M. S. Thesis, Faculty of Engineering of University of Porto (FEUP), Porto, Portugal, 2015.


P. P. d. Silva and J. P. S. Cunha, “SenseMyHeart: A Cloud Service and API for Wearable Heart Monitors,” in the proceedings of 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Milano, Italy, 2015.

In the era of ubiquitous computing, the growing adoption of wearable systems and body sensor networks is trailing the path for new research and software for cardiovascular intensity, energy expenditure and stress and fatigue detection through cardiovascular monitoring. Several systems have received clinical-certification and provide huge amounts of reliable heart-related data in a continuous basis. PhysioNet provides equally reliable open-source software tools for ECG processing and analysis that can be combined with these devices. However, this software remains difficult to use in a mobile environment and for researchers unfamiliar with Linux-based systems. In the present paper we present an approach that aims at tackling these limitations by developing a cloud service that provides an API for a PhysioNet-based pipeline for ECG processing and Heart Rate Variability measurement. We describe the proposed solution, along with its advantages and tradeoffs. We also present some client tools (windows and Android) and several projects where the developed cloud service has been used successfully as a standard for Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability studies in different scenarios.


Susana Brás, Nuno Ferreira and João Paulo Silva Cunha, “ECG ARTEFACT DETECTION ALGORITHM: An Algorithm to Improve Long-term ECG Analysis”, In Proceedings of the International Conference on Bio-inspired Systems and Signal Processing (BIOSIGNALS-2012)

Newly devices allow the analysis and collection of very long-term electrocardiogram (ECG). However, associated with this devices and long-term signal, are artefacts that conduce to misleading interpretations and diagnosis. So, new developments over automatic ECG classification are needed for a reliable interpretation. The feasibility of the cardiac systems is one of the main concerns, once they are currently used as diagnosis or help systems. In this project, an artefact detection algorithm is developed, dividing the time-series in intervals of signal and artefact. The algorithm is based on the assumption that, if the analyzed frame is signal, there is not an abrupt alteration over consecutive short windows. So, the time-series is divided in consecutive no overlapped short windows. Over these windows, it is calculated the time-series standard deviation, the maximum and minimum slope. A threshold-based rule is applied, and the algorithm reveals that, in mean, it is verified a 99.29% of correctly classified signal and only 0.71% of signal erroneously classified. Over the results obtained, the algorithm seems to present good results, however it is needed its validation in a wider and representative sample with segments marked as artefact by multiple specialists.


Márcio F.M. Colunas; José M. Amaral Fernandes; Ilídio C. Oliveira; João P. Silva Cunha, “Droid Jacket: Using an Android based smartphone for team monitoring”, 7th International Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing Conference 2011

Professionals such as First Responders are frequently exposed to extreme environmental conditions, which induce stress and fatigue during extensive periods of time. In this scenario, the main issues are the quantification and evaluation of stress and fatigue, since uncontrolled levels have a profound and negative impact on human health and performance. Based on an existing wearable monitoring solution – the Vital Jacket ® – we propose an individual and team monitoring mobile solution called DroidJacket. DroidJacket is based on Android mobile devices and provides data aggregation, processing, visualization and optionally relaying services. The DroidJacket design is plugin oriented, integrating analysis modules, namely an online ECG plugin for both real time pulse and arrhythmia detection.


Araújo, Carla; Dias, Adelaide; Fontes, Paulo; Lima, Sara; Vouga, Eunice; Cunha, João Paulo; Leite Carina; Gama Ribeiro, Vasco, “Circadian distribution of ventricular ectopic activity in patients attending cardiovascular rehabilitation on exercise training and control days”, XXXII Congresso Português de Cardiologia 2011


João P. Silva Cunha, Bernardo Cunha, António Sousa Pereira, William Xavier, Nuno Ferreira, Luis Meireles,“Vital-Jacket®: A wearable wireless vital signs monitor for patients’ mobility in cardiology and sports”, Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (Pervasive Health), 2010 4th International Conference

The Vital Jacket® (VJ) is a wearable vital signs monitoring system that joins textiles with microelectronics. After several years of development within the university lab, it has been licensed to a start-up company. Its evolutions have focused on cardiology and sports and scaled down from a jacket to a single T-shirt. The VJ manufacturing process has recently been certified to comply with the standards ISO9001 and ISO13485 and the cardiology version was approved as a Medical Device for the European market compliant with the MDD directive 42/93/CE, holding the CE1011 mark. The authors intend to wear VJs during the days of the congress to demonstrate its usefulness in first hand and will exemplify the different scenarios of use of this innovative wearable intelligent garment.



In a previous research a procedure was designed to assess the dyadic (infant-caregiver) emotion regulation strategy of negative emotions, for 10 months-old infants: The Shape Sorter Task (Martins, 2007). This task classifies the dyads into three categories of emotion regulation strategy: inhibited, flexible and under-controlled. The inhibited category, defined by the total absence of negative emotions in the task (designed to elicit negative emotionality), was predicted by the infant’s avoidant attachment at 12/16 months in the Strange Situation (Ainsworth et al., 1978) and marginally by the infant’s less positive emotional social responsiveness and activity level (dull temperament) at 10 months, as assessed by the Infant Characteristics Questionnaire (Bates, et al., 1979). These results suggest that it is possible to identify an early strategy of emotional over-control, before 12 months. The analysis of the infants’ autonomic responses during the Shape Sorter Task may clarify the idea that if these infants, that do not express negative emotions, show autonomic activation, then there will be a disassociation between emotion expression and physiology, characteristic of emotional over-control.

We examined infants’ Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) at 10 months during the Shape Sorter Task. This is a measure of heart rate variability considered to be an index of vagal tone (vagal control of the heart). The ability to suppress vagal tone during a time of challenge has been related to greater emotion and behavior regulation (Porges, 2007).