Posted in | Medical Robotics

Combination of Wearable Technology and AI Can Predict Onset of Health Issues

Researchers from the University of Waterloo have discovered that applying artificial intelligence to the correct combination of data retrieved from wearable technology could detect whether a person’s health is deteriorating.

The study, which involved researchers from Waterloo’s Faculties of Applied Health Sciences and Engineering, discovered that the data from wearable sensors and artificial intelligence that measures variations in aerobic responses could one day predict if a person is undergoing the onset of a cardiovascular or respiratory disease.

“The onset of a lot of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has a direct impact on our aerobic fitness,” said Thomas Beltrame, who led the research while at the University of Waterloo, and is currently at the Institute of Computing in the University of Campinas in Brazil. “In the near future, we believe it will be possible to continuously check your health, even before you realize that you need medical help.”

As a part of the research, active, healthy men in their twenties were asked to wear a shirt for four days that integrated sensors for breathing, heart rate, and acceleration. The team was then able to compare the readings with laboratory responses and learned that it was possible to correctly predict health-related benchmarks during day-to-day activities using just the smart shirt.

“The research found a way to process biological signals and generate a meaningful single number to track fitness,” said Richard Hughson, co-author and kinesiology professor at the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging.

Beltrame and Hughson co-authored the study with Alexander Wong, Canada Research Chair in artificial intelligence and medical imaging and an engineering professor at Waterloo. He is associated with both the Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute and the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging. Robert Amelard, of the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging, is also a co-author. The research has been published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

This multi-disciplinary research is a great example of how artificial intelligence can be a potential game-changer for healthcare by turning data into predictive knowledge to help healthcare professionals better understand an individual’s health. It can have a significant impact on improving quality of life and well-being.

Alexander Wong

Carré Technologies created the smart shirts, referred to as Hexoskin, used in the study.

The team plans to test these systems on mixed genders and ages, and people with health problems to see how people might wear the sensors to estimate whether their health is deteriorating.

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