Scientists, including those of Indian-origin, have created a wearable device that can track a person’s movements, ambient environment and bio-signals, and could help monitor dementia patients and diagnose diseases early.
The device may also be used in combat training for soldiers, researchers said.
The device, developed by researchers including Debraj De, a postdoctoral fellow and Sajal K Das, department chair of computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in the US, is going to be tested for patient rehabilitation and routine evaluation.
“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, from the Phelps County Regional Medical Centre (PCRMC) in the US.
The sensing device, which looks like an over-sized watch, has four basic functions.
It records fine-grained movement like fitness trackers, and 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,” De said.
The sensing device has functions like Global Positioning System (GPS) and communication with Bluetooth beacons in proximity for various location contexts.
The multi-modal sensor data can unveil 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, researchers said.
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 Steve Tupper, Missouri S&T’s liaison at Fort Leonard Wood – a US Army installation.
With the heart rate monitor and respiration tracker and, the device can see if a soldier under training is gun shy -afraid and hesitant to squeeze the trigger during rifle training.
It also could study soldiers’ physiological responses for traumatic brain injuries or if they are exposed to pathogens and how they respond, such as twitching eyes or ragged respiration, said Tupper.