From HandWiki
Short description: Application of biomedical engineering to measurement of biological systems

Bioinstrumentation or Biomedical Instrumentation is an application of biomedical engineering, which focuses on the devices and mechanics used to measure, evaluate, and treat biological systems. It focuses on the use of multiple sensors to monitor physiological characteristics of a human or animal. Such instrumentation originated as a necessity to constantly monitor vital signs of Astronauts during NASA's Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.[1]

Bioinstrumentation is a new and upcoming field, concentrating on treating diseases and bridging together the engineering and medical worlds. The majority of innovations within the field have occurred in the past 15-20 years. Bioinstrumentation has revolutionized the medical field, and has made treating patients much easier. The instruments/sensors convert signals found within the body into electrical signals.[2] There are many subfields within bioinstrumentation, they include: biomedical options, creation of sensor, genetic testing, and drug delivery.[3] Other fields of engineering, such as electrical engineering and computer science, are related to bioinstrumentation.[2]

Bioinstrumentation has since been incorporated into the everyday lives of many individuals, with sensor-augmented smartphones capable of measuring heart rate and oxygen saturation, and the widespread availability of fitness apps, with over 40,000 health tracking apps on iTunes alone.[4] Wrist-worn fitness tracking devices have also gained popularity,[5] with a suite of on-board sensors capable of measuring the user's biometrics, and relaying them to an app that logs and tracks information for improvements.


Biomedical engineering and bioinstrumentation are new terms, but the practice behind them has existed for many generations. Since the beginning of mankind, humans have used what was available to them to treat the medical mishaps they encountered. Biomedical engineering was most developed in the nineteenth century. In the recent years, biomedical engineering has gained popularity and focused on creating solutions for issues in human physiology. Since then, inventions such as X-rays and stethoscopes have progressed and revolutionized the medical field.[6]

Space flight

Bioinstrumentation was first developed in earnest by NASA during their early space missions, to gain a better understanding of how humans were affected by space travel. These early bioinstrumentation sensor arrays built by NASA constantly monitored astronauts ECG, respiration, and body temperature; and later measured blood pressure.[7] This allowed physicians to monitor the astronauts vital-signs for potential problems. Data taken from Apollo 15 ECG bioinstrumentation showed periods of cardiac arrhythmia, which physicians and planners used to alter expected workload, diet, and the drugs in the on-board medical kits.[1]

Circuits/creation of sensors

Sensors are the most well known aspect of Bioinstrumentation. They include thermometers, brain scans, and electrocardiograms. Sensors take in signals from the body, and amplify them so engineers and doctors can study them. Signals from sensors are amplified using circuits. Circuits take in a voltage source, and modify them using resistors, capacitors, inductors, and other components. They then let out a certain amount of voltage, which is used for analysis. The data collected using sensors is often displayed on computer programs. This field of bioinstrumentation is closely related to electrical engineering.[3]

Current use

Fitness trackers

Bioinstrumentation in the commercial market has seen a large amount of growth in the field of wearables, with wrist-worn activity tracking devices surging from a market value of 0.75 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, to 5.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.[5] Bioinstrumentation has also been added to smartphone designs, with smartphones now capable of measuring heart rate, blood-oxygen levels, number of steps taken, and more depending on the device.

Biomedical optics

Biomedical Optics is the field of performing noninvasive operations and procedures to patients. This has been a growing field, as it is easier and does not require the patient to be opened.[3] Biomedical Optics is made possible through imaging such as CAT (computerized axial tomography) scans.[8] One example of biomedical optics is LASIK eye surgery, which is a laser microsurgery done on the eyes. It helps correcting multiple eye problems, and is much easier than option than other surgeries.[8] Other important aspects of biomedical optics include microscopy and spectroscopy.[9]

Genetic testing

Bioinstrumentation can be used for genetic testing. This is done with the help of chemistry and medical instruments. Professionals in the field have created tissue analysis instruments, which can compare the DNA of different people. Another example of genetic testing is gel electrophoresis. Gel electrophoresis uses DNA samples, along with biosensors to compare the DNA sequence of individuals.[8] Two other important instruments involved in genomic advances are microarray technology and DNA sequencing. Microarrays reveal the activated and repressed genes of an individual. DNA sequencing uses lasers with different wavelength, to determine the nucleotides present in different DNA strands. Bioinstrumentation has changed the world of genetic testing, and helps scientists understand DNA and the human genome better than ever before.[8]

Drug delivery/aiding machines

Drug delivery and aiding machines have been improved greatly by bioinstrumentation. Pumps have been created to deliver drugs such as anesthesia and insulin. Before, patients would have to visit doctors more regularly, but with these pumps, they can treat themselves in a faster and cheaper way. Aiding machines include hearing aids and pace makers. Both of these use sensors and circuits, to amplify signals and reveal when there is an issue to the patient.[3]


Bioinstruments are used immensely in the field of agriculture for monitoring and sampling the soil as well as measure plant growth. Biotechnology in agriculture requires handling compound plant genomes that is done using complex instrumentation. Devices such as tensiometers are used to measure the moisture content of the soil that helps to maintain the most favorable conditions for crop growth. Attaching an electrical transducer to it allows the crop data to be monitored at regular intervals in terms of soil moisture and water profile.[8]


In the field of Botany, bioinstruments are widely utilized to gauge plant digestion. The PTM-48A Photosynthesis Monitor is used to register a plant's physiological qualities like carbon dioxide trade, leaf wetness, net photosynthesis and stomatal conductance.[8]

Imaging systems

Bioinstruments such as the ChemiDoc Touch framework is an imaging system for electrophoresis and Western blot imaging integrated with a touchscreen on a supercomputer. It utilizes application particular trays for chemiluminecscene and UV identification to offer high sensitivity and picture quality.[10]

Future plans

With the fields of Biomedical Engineering and medicine growing rapidly, bioinstrumentation will continue to progress. The main focus of the field is to make the medical world faster and more efficient. With the major improvements in technology and how scientists understand the human body, the field will continue to grow. The main focuses for the future of the field include robots and cellular scanning devices.[6]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Luczkowski, Stanley. SP-368 Biomedical results of Apollo. Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center: NASA. pp. Chapter 3. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Bioinstrumentation". University of California. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "What is Bioinstrumentation?". Conjecture Corporation. 
  4. Sullivan, Alycia (January 2017). "Behavior Change with Fitness Technology in Sedentary Adults: A Review of the Evidence for Increasing Physical Activity". Frontiers in Public Health 4: 289. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2016.00289. PMID 28123997. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Global wearable technology market 2012-2018 | Statistic" (in en). 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "A History of Biomedical Engineering". 
  7. Chowdhury, Abul. "Bioinstrumentation System as Flown on the Mercury Missions". 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Kumar, Padma. "What is Bioinstrumentation - Common Applications". 
  9. "Biomedical Optics (Biomed)". The Optical Society. 
  10. Mandelis, Andreas (2015). "Focus on bioinstrumentation and biotechnologies". Physics Today 68 (1): 50–52. doi:10.1063/pt.3.2662. Bibcode2015PhT....68a..50M.