Totem Open Health

An open platform and ecosystem for wearable health technology, including: sensors, data collection, storage, sharing, analysis and algorithmic interpretation.

What is it?

Totem Open Health is an open platform and ecosystem for wearable health technology, including: sensors, data collection, storage, sharing and analysis and algorithmic interpretation.

The open nature of Totem Open Health provides opportunities beyond what is currently possible in proprietary closed solutions, such as: unhindered collaboration, faster innovation, localized development, addressing of low-volume niche problem areas, transparency and shared knowledge for the benefit of all.

We are currently developing the first product for the Open Health ecosystem: the Totem Health Patch. This is a cost effective, completely open licensed (“open source”), standardized, small wearable device containing off-the-shelf sensors, packaged in robust casings, flexible to be applied in many contexts and circumstances.

Along with the development of the Totem Health Patch we are developing solutions for data storage, analysis and algorithm development and sharing (“App store for health algorithms”). All these based on existing open source software and open technology, as to maximize the benefit to the proposed Open Health ecosystem and society in general.

How is it used?

The most obvious use case of the Totem Health Patch is to be worn on the body. The small form factor and robust casing allow easy application using existing adhesive patches, wristbands and other means.

Because of the flexible nature of this open technology, the specific use cases and placement depend on the context of use. The device can for example be placed on the belly of a pregnant woman for detecting fetal movements, on the chest for measuring respiration pattern, body position, activity and sleep/rest monitoring and on the limbs for specific speed and direction movement analysis.

However, one of the core values inherent to the open nature of this initiative is the promise that any creative individual and organization can come up with use cases and innovative solutions to be applied independently. Applications that we would never be able to think of and create all ourselves, nor would we want to. For example, use of the device is not restricted to use on the body. Perhaps someone would find a use case for it on a machine or surface, to monitor movement and temperature or maybe on live stock to track the health of the animals.

Totem Open Health encourages everyone in the world to analyze the output, the data sets, with an Open algorithm API. With these tools one dataset can be used for the interpreting different types of conditions, going from a general movement tracker to a very precise breathing monitor.

What technologies does it incorporate?

The first generation of the Totem Health Patch incorporates: an advanced high quality accelerometer and gyroscope for movement tracking, three temperature sensors at different locations, a Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) chip for connectivity to a smartphone or other communications gateway, a microSD card slot for data storage (so it can work without a phone) and a standard coin cell battery for power.

The Totem Health Patch can log data starting as slow as only one time per minute up to 400 times per second, depending on the use case. With a normal use (one measurement every second)the battery works for a continuous 40 days.

Each data point is also stamped with a “real time clock” which makes it possible for a dataset to be integrated with datasets from other devices.

Next generations of the Totem Health Patch can include additional sensors, such as ECG for heart rate and heart related issues (we are currently experimenting with this), blood oxygen saturation, blood glucose level, skin resistance and blood pressure.

How does it work?

The usage for the end user is very straightforward. The device’s packaging is opened (brand new one) and a standard coin cell battery is placed into the holder. From that moment on the device will start collecting data.

The user can change the interval of data collection when he connects a smartphone with Bluetooth. However, this is optional and only necessary once, so this can be done by a doctor or other local professional.

The data will be collected on the local microSD card. This way the data will stay local and the user can decide when and with whom to share the data. Sharing is a matter of handing over the microSD card and put it into a computer or phone where the data can be analyzed trough a custom algorithm.

Optionally a smartphone can be used for real-time data analysis in situations where this is desired.

Who uses it?

Because the Totem Health Patch is open source, people and companies can use the device as they see fit, combining it with a growing algorithm database for any scenario they can think of. This makes it a perfect tool to enable people to create interesting, or lifesaving solutions.

Why does it help?

— Helping Violence Against Children (VAC) victims
Using the Totem Health Patch and the accompanying app, children will be assisted to do cognitive based breathing exercises and heart rate biofeedback exercises, bringing them back into contact with their body and emotions.

— Detecting possible complications during pregnancy
Sensor data from the Totem Health Patch is transmitted to the smartphone app where it is interpreted for relevant feedback to the pregnant women and for sending and further interpretation and analysis by an automated system and by healthcare professionals.

Any abnormalities are reported, where the pregnant woman and/or healthcare professionals can take appropriate actions to prevent further escalation of the problem.

— Early detection of Pneumonia
Respiratory data is continuously gathered by an app, with the user receiving feedback. Healthcare professionals can be alerted whenever a certain threshold indicating a possible problem is reached. Appropriate actions can then be taken to medically diagnose and prevent the further development of the disease.


Team's Location


Team's Occupation


Team Members

Diderik van Wingerden, John Tillema, Dimer Schaefer, Robin van Emden, Robbert Mica, Sven-Erik HaitJema

Focus Area(s)

Diagnosis/Treatment/Referral, Behavior Change, Data Collection/Data Insight

UNICEF Pillar(s)

Health, Child Protection

These pages have been pulled directly from applications submitted to the Wearables for Good Challenge in 2015. They represent the work of the individual teams and have subsequently not been edited.


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