Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed the Health and Environmental Tracker (HET), a new integrated, wearable system that monitors the user’s environment, heart rate, and other attributes with the aim of predicting and preventing asthma attacks. Full data are published in the IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics

Lead investigator, Alper Bozkurt, explained, “Our goal was to design a wearable system that could track the wellness of the subjects and in particular provide the infrastructure to predict asthma attacks, so that the users could take steps to prevent them by changing their activities or environment.” The resulting HET is made up of a suite of new sensor devices incorporated into a wristband and a patch that is worn on the chest. 

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The wristband primarily tracks environmental factors such as monitoring volatile organic compounds and ozone, as well as ambient humidity and temperature.The patch contains sensors that track the user’s movement, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen concentration in the blood, skin impedance, and wheezing in the lungs. The wristband also contains extra sensors to detect motion, heart rate, and oxygen concentration in the blood. A self-powered spirometer is also included in the system where patients can breathe into throughout the day to assess lung function. 

Data from the various sensors are wirelessly transmitted to a computer, and is then collected and recorded through a custom software. HET also utilizes ultra-low power consumption compared to existing devices, which enables longer battery life and a better compatibility with power generated by the body. 

The study team plans to start testing HET in a controlled environment with larger populations of patients with asthma and a control group. 

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