Medical Solution - Stoma Bag Monitor – Electronic design services with Argon Design Ltd.

Medical Solution - Stoma Bag Monitor

Skill sets used

Embedded products, Electronic engineering, Portable products, User interfaces, Software engineering, Product definition

The Challenge

Michael Seres, co-founder of 11 Health (, knew from personal experience about the problems for Ostomy/Stoma patients in not knowing how full a bag is or when it requires emptying. Michael set out to find a solution to this problem and after much research on the Internet found a suitable sensor and created a working hand-built prototype.

11 Health brought the prototype to Argon Design, and asked us to help them to develop this into the world-first product, called Ostom-i Alert Sensor.

Our remit was to design an electronic product which would:

  • Measure the fullness of the bag using a flexible sensor
  • Connect over Bluetooth and send measurements to the user’s phone
  • Be compact and lightweight - so as not to interfere with the user
  • Have an adequate battery life to avoid replacement being an issue

We also developed an Android application for the "Google Play" Store, which considerably enhanced the user experience by allowing seamless remote interaction with the electronic module using a smartphone or tablet.

Our Approach

We started the project by working closely with the 11 Health to define the product requirements. Having established a good understanding of the objectives, we could then plan, manage and execute the engineering tasks.

We proposed the use of an off-the-shelf module for the Bluetooth function, as this would allow inexpensive and rapid development. A low-cost PIC embedded microcontroller was selected to read the sensor and interface to the Bluetooth module, while a high efficiency switch-mode power supply was used to optimise the battery life.

With high-level design complete, we purchased evaluation boards for the Bluetooth module and PIC microcontroller, so that development of the PIC microcontroller software could start in parallel with the hardware detailed design. While the software was being developed, we moved on to the schematic capture and PCB design. With careful component choice and PCB placement, we were able to create a design that was just 32mm x 22mm in overall size.

In parallel with the development of the electronic module we developed the Android application, which would:
Astom-i App

  • Connect via Bluetooth to the Stoma measuring module
  • Store results of the measurements
  • Allow the patient to set alarms at different levels of fullness
  • Generate reports which can be emailed to healthcare professionals on a periodic basis
  • Upload the patient's data to a website which allows the patient to browse their history

We added further value to the overall solution by creating a tablet application for use in hospitals, enabling nurses to keep track of patients with stoma bags.

When all the elements of the system were complete, we tested it comprehensively in line with our quality practices, in order to achieve a high degree of confidence that the product was "right first time".

The Outcome

A successful launch of the Ostom-i Alert Sensor product to the public was in Q3 2013 at the UOAA National Conference.

An initial batch of 1000 units has been manufactured and units are available for consumers and health organisations to purchase. The Android application is available to download at The Google Play store, and an iPhone app is now available.

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