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Jewelry-Like Devices in Development to Enable Mobile Health

Testing biometric bracelet

David Kotz of Dartmouth, in foreground, tests the prototype biometric bracelet with colleagues Rianna Starheim and Ryan Halter (Eli Burak, Dartmouth College)

Computer scientists and engineers at Clemson University in South Carolina and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire are collaborating on electronic devices worn like jewelry to improve the capture of data for mobile health applications, while maintaining an individual’s privacy and security. The three-year Amulet project, as the initiative is known, is funded by National Science Foundation grants to Dartmouth and Clemson totaling $1.5 million.

The team led by computer scientists David Kotz at Dartmouth and Jacob Sorber at Clemson aims to address the need for a wireless network around the human body for health monitoring and connection to health-management systems. “Our vision is that computational jewelry,” says Sorber in a Clemson statement, “in a form like a bracelet or pendant, will provide the properties essential for successful body-area mHealth networks.”

The bracelet or pendant envisioned by Amulet would provide network services, like discovery and monitoring, while providing authorization data to connect to apps on mobile devices, such as smartphones. The simple low-power jewelry-like systems would carry out dedicated biometric monitoring functions that complement more general-purpose smartphones with health and wellness apps.

For health care providers, the systems are expected to support clients’ wellness goals, such as monitoring exercise and medication adherence, as well as connect to individual electronic health records or provide health status information in case of an emergency. Because the devices would be customized to provide data only for the person wearing them, they would offer greater privacy and security, since it would contain permission to use the data only for pre-authorized systems.

A prototype wristband/bracelet is now being developed as part of the project.

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