Researchers develop wearable that monitors activity, bio signals and environment

Researchers have created a wearable device for the wrist that can track a person's movements, ambient environment, bio-signals and much more.

Indian-origin researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a multi-modal sensing device that can track the fine-grained activities and behaviour of people with dementia and it could help in army combat training, too. The researchers, Debraj De and Sajal K. Das, along with their teammates created a wearable device for the wrist that can track a person's movements, ambient environment, bio-signals and much more.

"The smart chair and the wearable device are new, noninvasive strategies for earlier diagnosis and represent a partnership among scientists and physicians," said Mignon Makos, Neurologist who collaborated with the researchers for the project. Looking like an oversized watch, the sensing device has four basic functions. Like a fitness tracker, it records fine-grained movement, measures the wearer's direct physical environment for temperature, humidity and barometric air pressure.

It also will track health status through heart rate, respiration rate and galvanic skin response (a person's skin reacts to stimuli through the sympathetic nervous system, producing a weak electrical current that indicates the wearer's emotional state, such as being startled or agitated). Finally, the sensing device has functions like GPS and communication with Bluetooth beacons in proximity for various location contexts.

The multi-modal sensor data can reveal fine-grained user activity and behaviour contexts, powered by machine learning-based analytics. The wearable device has real-time data communication and analysis capability. The entire system is designed to support body multi-positional sensing applications as well, where the device can be worn on other body parts.

For those rehabilitating and those with dementia, the ability to track their fine-grained activities and behaviour, measure their heart rate and locate them indoor or outdoor helps healthcare providers keep tabs on their patients. "The GPS function is especially helpful with dementia patients, who can wander away from home and not know how to return. For the army, the device has different functions," said Debraj De, researcher at Missouri University of Science and Technology, in a statement.

With the heart rate monitor, respiration tracker and GSR functions, it can see if a recruit is gun shy -- afraid and hesitant to squeeze the trigger during rifle training -- because of the recoil or noise when it fires. It also could study soldiers' physiological responses for traumatic brain injuries or if they're exposed to pathogens and how they respond, such as twitching eyes or ragged respiration.


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