Editorial Feature

Wearable Sensors – How Will They Improve Our Lives?

Wearable sensors are technology that could be embedded into a human body to observe changes, for example, movement, changes in temperature, etc. The way they work varies depending on their use, but it could be summarized in a few key points. First, a change is detected by the sensor, then it is analyzed, and finally, it is converted to a relevant type of information.

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Application of Wearable Sensors in the Games Industry

Wearable sensors have been gaining popularity during the past few years in different fields; one of which is the games industry. Game developers have been trying to create a more realistic interaction between the user and the computer using gesture-based interfaces.

This could be obtained using wearable sensors technology, meaning that when the user performs a movement, it would be assigned to the character in the game. This technique makes games more interactive and entertaining to the user, resulting in the growth of the video game market.

Use of Wearable Sensors in the Healthcare Industry

Another important use of wearable sensors could be in the healthcare industry. If adopted in hospitals, they could provide doctors with relevant information about the condition of a patient and how it is changing, without the doctor needing to meet them for an assessment.

The patient’s condition will be continuously tracked making it easier for the doctor to spot any issues and avoid false diagnosis. Therefore, wearable sensors could be the key to providing a more cost-efficient healthcare system with better quality.

Wearable sensors could also be used for early diagnosis of health issues and different diseases. If manufactured in a way that they could be continuously worn without being visible, patients could use them in their everyday life. An individual profile of a person’s health could be provided as the sensors collect continuous data. If a doctor has access to this information, they could make a conclusion on the patient’s condition based on long-term observations of their health.

Other than a person’s health characteristics, a wearable sensor could be used for monitoring different habits, like smoking. Smoking is a serious issue in many countries across various age groups. Often it can be difficult to accurately depict a person’s smoking habits, as currently all the methods for monitoring smoking are based on self-reports, which may not always be reliable. However, wearable sensors could provide a solution to that problem. The sensors that are being developed currently work on the principle of monitoring a smoker’s breathing and their hand-to-mouth gestures while smoking.

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Existing Wearable Sensors and Their Uses

Currently, one of the most popular wearable sensors is the Fitbit activity tracker. Starting in 2007, Fitbit introduced wearable technology devices that collect data about a person’s heart rate during a workout, sleeping or doing everyday tasks. They also monitor physical activity like the number of steps walked over a day. The Fitbit devices store all of the recorded data, and it is accessible to the user via the Fitbit mobile app, which allows them to track and compare their habits and physical activity.

In 2017, the Technical Research Centre of Finland developed wearable assistive devices to help visually impaired people sense their environment. The sensors allow them to move around safely and live a more independent life. They can be worn underneath clothing because they work using radio waves. The emitted radio waves detect if there is an obstacle on the way and send feedback to the user by vibrating or with voice feedback. Although the device has not been fully developed yet, it will be revolutionary for visually impaired people.

Conclusion

Wearable sensors are relatively new technology, and a lot of research is being put into them. When adopted more widely throughout various industries, they will help to create a safer environment for many of us and facilitate our day-to-day lives.

Sources

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1047320311001684
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170110091907.htm
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780124186620/wearable-sensors

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Yulia Yancheva

Written by

Yulia Yancheva

Yulia is currently pursuing an MPhys Physics degree at The University of Manchester and is passionate about experimental multidisciplinary research. Yulia's main interest is focused in the fields of biological physics, material science, surface physics and photonics. She discovered her passion for these fields during her foundation year in physics at The University of Manchester.

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