Simulator of a Full Fetal Electrocardiogram Measurement Chain by Multichannel Capacitive Sensing

Lin Xu (Corresponding author), Chiara Rabotti, Yijing Zhang, Rik Vullings, Mohammed Meftah, Sotir Ouzounov, Pieter J.A. Harpe, Massimo Mischi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Long-term ambulatory monitoring of the fetal heart rate (fHR) can greatly increase insight into fetal well-being and reduce pregnancy risks. Unfortunately, the existing solutions using wet or dry electrodes are unsuitable for long-term fHR monitoring due to the use of a gel or direct skin contact. Capacitive electrodes can measure an electrocardiographic (ECG) signal through clothes and, therefore, are perfectly suitable for long-term monitoring of the fHR. However, capacitive fetal ECG (fECG) measurements are challenging due to the high sensitivity of capacitive sensors to motion artifacts (MAs) and the low amplitude of the fECG. This article aims at investigating the feasibility of fECG measurements using capacitive electrodes with dedicated postprocessing algorithms for signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) improvement and MA reduction. To this end, a novel simulator of the full measurement chain is realized that generates multichannel capacitive fECG data with artificial MAs and system noise. A dedicated blind source separation (BSS) algorithm is then employed for MA removal and fECG extraction. The extracted fECG is evaluated by SNR calculation and R-peak detection. Our results show that the BSS algorithm may extract the fECG signal from noisy capacitive data. In addition, lower system noise or higher number of channels may lead to better fECG extraction. A maximum increase of 0.5 dB in the SNR and decrease of 80.7 % in the R-peak detection error are observed with increased electrode number from 8 to 20. Our findings provide useful insights for the hardware design of a capacitive fECG measurement system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8873661
Pages (from-to)4348-4357
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Instrumentation and Measurement
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Ambulatory monitoring
  • blind source separation (BSS)
  • capacitive electrode
  • fetal electrocardiography
  • motion artifacts (MAs)
  • simulation
  • unobtrusive


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