Greener BeeGreen GadgetsThese Wearables Detect Health Issues Before They Happen
Electrocardiogram data transmitted from MD2K’s AutoSense chest-band is displayed on a smartphone running the mCerebrum software platform. This researcher is also wearing a MotionSense wristband.

Future generations of Apple Watches, Fitbits, or Android Wear gadgets may be able to detect and mitigate health problems rather than simply relay health data, thanks to a federally funded project that is applying big-data tools to mobile sensors.

The project, called MD2K, won $10.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to develop hardware and software that compiles and analyzes health data generated by wearable sensors. MD2K’s ultimate goal is to use these sensors and data to anticipate and prevent “adverse health events,” such as addiction relapse. Though the project is aimed at researchers and clinicians, its tools are freely available, so these innovations could turn up in consumer wearables.

Commercial wearable devices aren’t suitable for research because they only gather a few types of health data about a user, such as number of steps taken and heart rate, and they typically display specific results rather than raw sensor data. In addition, their batteries can’t support a full day’s worth of high-frequency data collection and they don’t quantify the degree of uncertainty associated with their data.

MD2K’s EasySense wearable is a cardiorespiratory monitor that can measure lung fluid level in congestive heart failure patients.
EasySense uses a circular antenna array to obtain stable measurements irrespective of orientation.


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