Canaria Awarded University of Surrey Funding

We’re very pleased to be able to announce that, following an intense and highly competitive final pitching round on the 14th December 2016, Canaria has been chosen by the University of Surrey to be awarded BESSS (Business Enterprise Student Support Scheme) funding.

This £5000 funding grant is a vital source of funding for Canaria and as our first source of seed funding is an exciting boost to our progress.

Since winning the Nasa Space Apps Challenge in June of 2016, Canaria has been making rapid progress to make continuous, 24 x 7 vital signs monitoring a reality. Canaria will revolutionise the way that the world stays healthy and we’ve been gaining advice and feedback from industry experts, testing prototypes, and collaborating with the latest research to ensure that Canaria makes the biggest possible impact to everyone’s health when it launches.

The Business Enterprise Student Support Scheme is an initiative run by the University of Surrey to give student-run start-ups the start that they need in order to make a major impact on the world and this is exactly what it will do for Canaria. With this vote of confidence from the 2016 Times and Sunday Times University of the Year, progress at Canaria will be able to accelerate. We’re excited to be able to look forward to expanding our team, building new connections, and developing an even better product.

We’re excited for the future and if you’d like to find out more about what we’ve got planned say “hi” to Alex at CES 2017 this weekend or send us a

The Prototypes



Electronic components fitting inside earpiece


The Prototypes

Wire and plasticine prototypes of earpiece industrial design


canaria full png

3D CAD rendering of the final earpiece casing


Mission Patch

Principia Patch Case

3D CAD rendering of the CO2 detector space mission patch


The Technology

To ensure that our aesthetic design ambitions were realistic we designed the circuitry required by the device to allow us to accurately assess the space requirements needed.

From the start we knew that battery size and capacity would be one of the biggest hurdles for us to overcome to make the device useful and hassle-free for users. As one of our priorities was to minimise the mass that needed to be placed on a user’s ear, we made the decision to sacrifice battery capacity and install a wireless charging system, allowing the system to have almost continuous power supplied from an easily accessible source. This system allows the primary device power to be supplied externally, but also provides a small battery to act as a buffer, ensuring continuous data collection and transmission is maintained.

To further minimise the size of the ear–based unit we installed a combined bluetooth and processor system on chip. To measure heart rate and SO2 levels, the chip (A Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832) pulses an IR LED into the blood vessels behind the wearer’s ear. The reflected signals from this diode are then picked up by an IR detector, where changes in light intensity are converted to a varying voltage signal. This signal is then amplified by an Op-amp, operating in non-inverting amplification mode, and fed into an input on the nRF52831. The signal is sampled by the nRF52831 and temporarily stored in memory before being transferred via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) to the user’s smartphone or to central medical server.

The circuit board is designed in a unique trapezoidal shape. In addition to the 3 mounting holes present on the board, this shape ensures the PCB is firmly secured inside the earpiece casing, ensuring the system’s longevity.



Design Priorities

Principia Patch Case crop  dual image

What it Does

The Canaria system of CO2 monitor patch and earpiece acts as a lifeline to the wearer, simultaneously monitoring their heart rate, blood oxygen, and atmospheric CO2 levels. Named after the canaries used by Victorian miners as a warning system in areas of dangerous gas pockets, the Canaria has an audible danger threshold alarm to alert the wearer when they need to head back to safety. Data is automatically transferred by Bluetooth Low Energy to Apple and Android apps or even hospital eHealth wardware using the industry-standard Bluetooth Pulse Oximetry Profile. The patch contains the C02 monitor and batteries that provide wireless charging power to the earpiece as well as sending data of CO2 levels to the monitor hardware.

The benefits of Canaria mark it out as the future of wearable tech vital signs monitoring. It’s unobtrusive and non-invasive, allowing the wearer to change clothes, sleep undisturbed, and put headphones over it without the worry of it catching onto surrounding items. It analyses large data sets meaning that as well as detecting problems in ventilation systems, it can also help to fix them by supplying feedback about problem areas. The ability to gain continuous blood oxygen and heart rate data from individuals in space provides other research benefits, allowing changes to human physiology in space to be better monitored and planning for long duration spaceflight to be improved.  Most importantly for space use, its hard 3D printable case protects the delicate microchips within from solar radiation.


More Applications

The Canaria system is primarily designed for use on long-haul space missions, aboard space stations, and for commercial use in space hotels. As well as this, Canaria has a bounty of life-saving earth-bound applications. C02 pockets remain a huge problem for mining industries and tunnelling, and the introduction of Canaria provides a solution for the reduction of casualties. Use in hospitals offers the ability for doctors to monitor whole wards of patients constantly, allowing them the opportunity to respond to critical warning signs earlier; this is especially critical for cardiac arrests, strokes and Intensive Care Units. Mountaineers require blood oxygen readings regularly when facing the pitfalls of changing altitude levels. Military applications in warzones are vast, counteracting chemical warfare as well as keeping tabs on soldiers’ vital signs.

The Idea

Canaria was created as part of the 2016 NASA Space Apps Challenge. The two major problems we wanted to solve were to find a more comfortable solution for astronauts to continually log vital medical data without impeding their experiment work, and to tackle the issue of CO2 pocket build ups within spacecrafts.

The Canaria system was inspired by the current limitations of wearable space technologies. Cumbersome clothing not only has the problem of interfering with daily movements, but is also susceptible to solar radiation when microchips are incorporated into fabrics. When researching the lives of astronauts, it became clear that there was one area of the body that had been ignored by designers: that imperceptibly small space behind the concha of the ear and the neck.

During the fast-paced ergonomics design process, one of the team had a full-blown panic about the loss of one of the key prototypes; only to realise that they had been wearing it for the previous 6 hours underneath their headphones. A testament to the non-intrusive wearability of the product and the advantage of anchoring technologies to this part of the body.

Canaria ultimately won the Global NASA Space Apps Challenge, winning the title of “Best Use of Hardware 2016” with our pitch below:

Since then we’ve worked to develop Canaria further and now have US and PCT patent-pending status on our technology and have found a range of use cases on Earth where we can make an impact. We’re excited about Canaria’s ability to prevent accidents in the mining and haulage industries and its ability to improve healthcare and make hospitals more efficient for everyone.