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The design, test methods, and results of an ambulatory QRS detector are presented. The device is intended for the accurate measurement of heart rate variability (HRV) and reliable QRS detection in both ambulatory and clinical use. The aim of the design work was to achieve high QRS detection performance in terms of timing accuracy and reliability, without compromising the size and power consumption of the device. The complete monitor system consists of a host computer and the detector unit. The detector device is constructed of a commonly available digital signal processing (DSP) microprocessor and other components. The QRS detection algorithm uses optimized prefiltering in conjunction with a matched filter and dual edge threshold detection. The purpose of the prefiltering is to attenuate various noise components in order to achieve improved detection reliability. The matched filter further improves signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and symmetries the QRS complex for the threshold detection, which is essential in order to achieve the desired performance. The decision for detection is made in real-time and no search-back method is employed. The host computer is used to configure the detector unit, which includes the setting of the matched filter impulse response, and in the retrieval and postprocessing of the measurement results. The QRS detection timing accuracy and detection reliability of the detector system was tested with an artificially generated electrocardiogram (EGG) signal corrupted with various noise types and a timing standard deviation of less than 1 ms was achieved with most noise types and levels similar to those encountered in real measurements. A QRS detection error rate (ER) of 0.1 and 2.2% was achieved with records 103 and 105 from the MIT-BIH Arrhythmia database, respectively.