Thermal Sensors Improve Position Tracking in Wearable Devices

Until now, smart wearable devices relied on proximity sensors and wrist-worn inertial measurement unit sensors for tracking different locations. However, integration of such sensors into smart wearables could not bring the facility of identifying specific locations. Therefore, this limited their utility for precisely monitoring humans’ behaviors or even providing feedback for guiding a particular behavior. However, the launch of special thermal sensors promise to achieve high accuracy in position tracking. Researchers from the Child Mind Institute have developed such special sensors for mainly monitoring body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs).

The latest wrist-worn device – Tingle, intends to distinguish between behaviors directed to six different locations on the head. Accurate monitoring of different hand positions with respect to the head has several potential applications. Such applications range from computer gaming to detecting certain clinical conditions. Therefore, the implementation of thermal sensors in Tingle is highly advantageous in the area of BFRB diagnosis and management.

Tingle Has Potential Use in Mitigating Repetitive and Compulsive Behaviors

BFRBs are a wide array of mental/neurological illnesses, wherein the affected individuals involuntarily cause self-harm through repeated behaviors. Such illnesses include trichotillomania, excoriation disorder, Tourette syndrome, and autism. Moreover, common BFRBs also involve skin picking, nail biting, and hair pulling, which are mostly undertreated and misdiagnosed till date. To find out the effectiveness of thermal sensors in Tingle, researchers had collected data from 39 healthy adults. During the experiment, those participants performed a series of repetitive behaviors while wearing the Tingle.

After such investigation, Dr. Klein, Ph.D. director of innovative technologies and his team have successfully measured the accuracy of thermal sensors. They have noticed that the thermal sensor data improved Tingle’s ability to accurately discriminate between hand’s positions at different locations. This experiment was a proof enough for understanding the thermal sensors functionality in detecting clinically relevant BFRBs.

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