Empatica, a company based in Cambridge, is leveraging its expertize of microcircuitry to develop wearable solutions that will improve the lives of children who suffer from epilepsy.
Their smart wearable device will help them control and
anticipate the terrible involuntary convulsions known as tonic-clonic seizures.
How Can Wearable Devices Help?
Epilepsy, a chronic condition that directly affects the central nervous system, is particularly heartbreaking when it interferes with the healthy development of pediatric patients.
Since the nervous system can be described as a complex network of circuits, it only makes sense that technology can help.
In mid-2019, Empatica announced the release of the Embrace2 wearable device aimed to help young patients who live with epilepsy.
The Embrace2 is a pediatric wrist device for the purpose of monitoring physiologic signals indicative of seizures.
Some of the Embrace2 components can be found within your mobile device.
For example, the accelerometer sensors that detect the orientation of the smartphone so that the display can switch from portrait to landscape mode are an integral part of the wearable.
We are also talking about gyroscopes, which more accurately sense position and orientation, and transmitters that send out SMS, voice call and smartphone alerts to the caregivers of children who can respond when a seizure is detected.
The sensor array of the Embrace2 is more sophisticated than what is found in your smartphone.
This wearable device measures certain changes commensurate with galvanic skin responses triggered by certain events in the central nervous system.
Even with all this technology, the Embrace2 is bound to detect false positives; after all, children are very active beings, and this is where artificial intelligence comes into play.
One feature of the Embrace2 device is called “Mate,” a digital diary that tracks seizures, physical activity and rest periods.
Data collected by the Mate diary can be put through AI
constructs such as machine learning algorithms so that the Embrace2 can one day
eliminate false positives and become more efficient.
Smart Wearables Becoming Smarter Thanks to Artificial Intelligence
Healthcare is hardly the only industry where the convergence of AI and wearable technologies are making great strides.
In the personal transportation and fitness fields, for example, we find Lumenus, a Southern California company that designs clothing and accessories enhanced by electronic lighting systems, mobile apps, sensors, GPS, and an intuitive user interface.
A Lumenus windbreaker looks like any stylish piece of apparel in the daytime, but when the sun goes down or visibility conditions diminish, the jacket lights up with artificial intelligence that can keep joggers, hikers, cyclists, and motorcycle riders safe.
Sensors typically found in your smartphone are also used in the apparel and accessories made by Lumenus; in the case of someone riding a bicycle on a dark road, the sensors will activate lights that notify drivers of braking action when deceleration takes place.
When the rider launches the Lumenus app on her smartphone, she can enter her destination and AI will interpret GPS data along with turn-by-turn directions to activate turn signals.
Another company engaged in AI and wearable technology research
is Game Your Game, a San Francisco
tech startup that has experienced considerable success with its Game Golf
platform, which combines the Fitbit Ionic wrist device with a mobile app that
connects with Smart Caddie, an AI database that makes shot and strategy recommendations based on information collected
from millions of rounds played at thousands of courses around the world.
Advancements in Wireless Connectivity to Propel Wearables Forward
Naturally, all that information plus the machine learning algorithms cannot be crammed into an app or a Fitbit device, thereby requiring wireless connectivity.
For the time being, Game Golf uses Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G connections; however, with the upcoming expansion of 5G and Long Term Evolution networks, the platform will become smarter and more effective for golf players.
LTE and 5G connectivity mean ultra-low latency, more efficient bandwidth management, and the ability to download high definition films in just a few seconds.
While this may sound as if it will mostly benefit video gaming applications and entertainment platforms, AI developers believe that this future paradigm will bring them closer to achieving goals such as instant translation, augmented reality on-the-go, and truly intuitive virtual assistants.
As the situation stands, AI products such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are somewhat constrained in terms of development because they already push the limits of 4G networks.
These smart apps work better when they are hosted in edge computing data centers, which are part of the next generation of cloud computing, but they need 5G connectivity in order to thrive and scale according to demand.
It should be noted that 5G technology is relatively new when compared to AI, which has undergone development since the late 1950s; nonetheless, AI is a far more complex field of research.
As the situation stands, machine learning is still in its
infancy, so it needs human guidance on a massive scale. To a great extent, 5G
technology will reach maturity very soon, but the same cannot be said about AI
because it has a lot to learn from human knowledge.
What The Future Holds for AI and Wearable Devices
There was a time when the Dick Tracy wristwatch from the eponymous 1946 comic strip was the standard of what wearable technology was expected to develop into.
In the beginning, this law enforcement tool featured a two-way radio, which by the 1960s had progressed into a two-way video communications device.
Just about any smartwatch on the market can handle the functionality of the Dick Tracy wristwatch; the logical curve of advancement for this kind of wearable devices is to incorporate more AI.
Let’s think about it in terms of self-driving technology, which also depends on the development and availability of 5G networks.
The faster we can connect to edge computing data centers and more data we can transfer to AI constructs, the smarter our wearable devices will become.
Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.