Combining Wearable Tech and AI Could Help Predict Onset of Diseases

Combining Wearable Tech and AI

Researchers from the University of Waterloo have found that applying artificial Intelligence (AI) to the data retrieved from wearable technology may detect failing health. The data from this combined technology that assesses changes in aerobic responses could predict onset of respiratory or cardiovascular 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 lead researcher Thomas Beltrame, PhD, of the Institute of Computing in 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.”

The study assessed 13 healthy men in their 20s who wore a smart shirt called Hexoskin for four days that incorporated sensors for heart rate, breathing and acceleration. The data was then compared with laboratory responses which showed that it is possible to precisely predict health-related benchmarks during daily activities using only the special shirt.

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“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.

Combining Wearable Tech and AI
Hexoskin shirt (Image: Hexoskin)

The smart shirts used in the research were developed by Carré Technologies.

Dr. Beltrame and Professor Hughson co-authored the study with Alexander Wong, Professor of Engineering at Waterloo and Canada Research Chair in artificial intelligence and medical imaging. Another co-author of the study is Robert Amelard, of the Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging.

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Professor Wong calls this an example of how AI can be a potential game-changer for healthcare. The mechanism which turns data into predictive knowledge could help healthcare professionals better understand a person’s health, he said.

“It can have a significant impact on improving quality of life and well-being,” Prof. Wong concluded.

The researchers plan to test this technology on people of mixed ages and genders, and individuals with health issues to see how the sensors could be worn to monitor failing health.

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

About the University of Waterloo

Located in the heart of Waterloo, the University of Waterloo is Canada’s top innovation university. With more than 36,000 students the institution is home to the world’s largest co-operative education system of its kind.