Another week, another wearable. It seems like every week some university shows off its biomedical health trackers off to media outlets. This time is no different, the US National Science Foundation's Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST) that operates out of North Carolina University is showing their Health and Environmental Tracker (HET). The researchers propose a patch-like device that a person would wear on their chest which would enable vital signs to be observed and data to be produced.
"Our goal was to design a wearable system that could track the wellness of the subjects and in particular provide the infrastructure to predict asthma attacks, so that users could take steps to prevent them by changing their activities or environment," said Alper Bozkurt, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and who is at the helm of the project.
The researchers have published their work in the IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics under the title: Low Power Wearable Systems for Continuous Monitoring of Environment and Health for Chronic Respiratory Disease.
"This system will permit a better understanding of the impact of increased ozone levels and other pollutants on chronic asthma conditions," the researchers write in their journal. The device will therefore also assist in measuring how a person who doesn't have asthma can develop asthma due to pollutants in the air. The setup also has a microphone that will listen to the amount of wheezing someone does and will be able to diagnose their conditions more accurately along with the sensors that connect to the head and chest.
"The data from each sensor is continually streamed to a peripheral data aggregation device and is subsequently transferred to a dedicated server for cloud storage. Future work includes reducing the power consumption of the system-on-chip including radio to reduce the entirety of each described system in the sub-milliwat range," the researchers wrote.
What we are seeing in the wearables industry is that biomedical research and the monitoring of health is the modus operandi of a lot of researchers right now. Tracking health and technology is something that might save people's lives one days and that is what the engineers are essentially wanting to achieve.