Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a new multi-modal sensing wearable that can track fine-grained activities and behaviour of dementia patients.

The wearable device was created by a postdoctoral fellow at Missouri S&T, Dr Debraj De, and the Daniel St. Clair Endowed Chair and Department Chair of Computer Science at Missouri S&T, Dr Sajal K. Das.

With an appearance similar to that of an oversized wrist-mounted watch, the device has four basic functions: to record fine-grained movement, as with a fitness tracker; to measure the wearer’s physical environment, such as temperature, humidity and barometric air pressure; to monitor the wearer’s health status by tracking their heart rate, respiration rate and galvanic skin response; and the fourth and final function of the device is to track the wearer via GPS, as well as communicate with nearby Bluetooth beacons for contextual reasons.

The wearable has real-time data communication and analysis capability powered by machine learning-based analytics. The collected sensor data can be used to reveal fine-grained user activity and behaviour contexts. Additionally, the entire system has been designed to support being worn on other parts of the body.

These attributes ensure that the device is ideal for helping healthcare providers monitor the health and location of their dementia patients in fine detail.

The team will soon be testing the wearable for patient rehabilitation and routine evaluation, in collaboration with a neurologist at Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC), Dr Mignon Makos.

“The wearable device is a new, non-invasive strategy for earlier diagnosis and represent a partnership among scientists and physicians,” said Dr Makos.

The device is also being touted for use in military training programmes, monitoring the health and behaviour of army recruits.

According to Missouri S&T’s liaison at Fort Leonard Wood, Steve Tupper, “The device De and Das are working on would be part of a suite of technology the Army is very interested in.”

Tupper explained that the device has significant implications in monitoring the health, location and behaviour of recruits undergoing military training. By finding and managing problems early, the device could be used as a cost saving measure. Additionally, the detailed data acquired can be used to improve training for the recruits.

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