Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) with collaboration from Bell Labs are developing a new wearable, called HeadScan, which will allow doctors to gather complete data about their patient’s eating, drinking, coughing and speaking habits.

Such insight is believed to help doctors get a better understanding of the patient’s habits and how it affects their health.

The HeadScan wearable is designed to stick to the patient’s shoulders and then bounce radio waves from two small antennas off their head, capturing movements of the mouth and head, which can be analysed by doctors.

Through HeadScan, doctors would be able to find out if a patient suffering from obesity is sticking to a diet plan, and can even determine if the patient is suffering mental health issues like depression by analysing how much the person talks and how they converse with others.

What sets HeadScan apart from other wearables is how unobtrusive it is. HeadScan has been developed to be small and light making it comfortable to wear and, because it’s radio-based, it’s believed to be less intrusive and protects the patient’s privacy.

“HeadScan uses wireless radio signals to sense the targeted activities and provides a nonintrusive and privacy-preserving solution that overcomes the drawbacks of current wearable technologies,” said Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MSU and head of the project, Mi Zhang, during an interview with MSU Today.

“Existing technology often uses cameras and microphones to measure this, which can track your voice as well as others around you. This offers a lot more privacy,” continued Zhang.

Zhang and his team plan to further test HeadScan and hope to have it available for practical use within the next couple of years.

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