Dr. Emil Jovanov has been named an IEEE Fellow for his contributions to the field of wearable health monitoring.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has selected Dr. Emil Jovanov, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), as a Fellow for his contributions to the field of wearable health monitoring.

"This is a huge honor for me and a huge honor for the university and for the work we are doing here," Dr. Jovanov says. "I was really very happy and humbled that some of the best people in the world gave me recommendations."

In 2000, Dr. Jovanov was the first to propose Wireless Body Area Networks (WBAN) as a sensor system integrated on or in bodies to communicate through the Internet for health monitoring.

"This is for me recognition of 20 years of work that I did mostly here at UAH," he says. "Of course, now mobile health is all common sense, but everybody knows what it means to have proposed that back in 2000 and implemented in 2002. I believe that the concept of mHealth definitely changed, and continues to change, the lives of people."

The IEEE Grade of Fellow is a distinction reserved for IEEE members selected from nominees by a committee for extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. Nominees must have accomplishments that have contributed importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology, bringing the realization of significant value to society.

The honor is conferred by the Board of Directors and the number of Fellows selected in any one year does not exceed one-tenth of one percent of the total voting Institute membership.

Dr. Jovanov was supported globally in his nomination by engineers and academics in Australia, Britain, China, and the United States.

"I am extremely blessed that I was selected the first time that I was nominated," he says.

Dr. Jovanov is currently working on using artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things to further his mHealth system for personalized medicine. The mHealth system uses wireless wearable sensors connected to smartphones, the cloud or wireless networks to collect health information.

He envisions a future in which commonly used items can be embedded with monitoring devices so that they become unobtrusive sentinels of health.

"I am currently very excited about the opportunity to have all these devices working together," he says. "Through the synergy of all intelligent devices around us you can have much more comprehensive information, and even new parameters that you can’t get with the devices operating separately."

Dr. Jovanov envisions a future where monitors are embedded in common objects of everyday use. Without any extra effort from its user, the network creates a personalized protective bubble of health information managed by your smartphone or smartwatch. The system would advise and facilitate the early detection and prevention of disease.

"That bubble can be your digital guardian angel," he says. "The advantage of this approach is that you can monitor individual health parameters every time the individual interacts with the intelligent device."

The mHealth system he introduced in 2000 has resulted in numerous patents.

In 2015 he invented and patented with UAH a smart water bottle that makes it easy for users and medical personnel to track consumption of fluids by using a cellphone, the cloud or a wireless network. The device was a finalist in the Alabama Launchpad Start-up Competition.

Dr. Jovanov was named the Alabama Inventor of the Year in 2014 for a smart pill bottle he invented that monitors patient medication compliance by real-time tracking of the number of pills taken and when they were consumed. The patent is commercialized by AdhereTech in New York, NY, the world leader in smart adherence monitoring solutions.

In cooperation with The Mayo Clinic, Dr. Jovanov and Dr. Aleksandar Milenkovic implemented the first low power wearable wireless body monitor 15 years ago, introducing the era of mobile health or mHealth. He invented the wearable wireless pilot stress monitor 18 years ago. Dr. Jovanov invented the wearable wireless remote heart monitor 20 years ago.

Among his other inventions, Dr. Jovanov also developed an mHealth suite of phone apps that uses smartphones to monitor the physical mobility and balance of older people.

He believes the personalized health monitoring future holds promise.

"I believe we are yet to see the convergence of all these technologies," he says, "and that is a convergence that will change the world."