A new watch can watch on you!

The Embrace wristband. A watch that can pick up epilepsy seizure through impedance and movements detection. Credit: Empatica

There are quite a few "smart" watches that can measure through accelerometers and conductivity sensors your activities through the day. They can tell you about the number of steps you took, the distance you travelled, the calories used and so on.

A new breed of watches are now appearing to measure the "stress" level. At the EIT ICT Labs we have an area investigating how technology can help in making you better aware of stressful situation (a situation can be stressful per se but what really matters is how you react to a specific situation and that depends as much on the situation as on the way you feel at that particular moment). We have a high impact initiative that is looking at stress in truck drivers with the aim of decreasing the chances of accidents.

Hence, my interest was piqued by this news on Embrace, a new watch that will hit the market early next year designed to measure stress  in general and more specifically to warn of epileptic seizures with a medical-grade quality.

The watch is being developed by Empatica, a start up that managed to raise funds through crowdfunding (on IndieGoGo).

The stylish watch, see the video clip, measure movements through an accelerometer and complement these data by measuring the changes in conductivity picked up by variation in a micro current that is circulating on the wrist skin through tiny metallic wires woven in the wrist band.

Through experiments, researchers have been able to recognise patterns that relates to an impending epileptic seizures. This information is processed by a smart phone that will relay it to an emergency number. It is the first smart watch, at least this is the inventors' claim, that has a medical grade reliability.

More generally, the data harvested during daily activity can be processed by an application on the smart phone and are turned into visual representation of the stress level during the day. By knowing it a person can "slow down" a bit and can learn to better control the stress decreasing it both by avoiding stressful situations (which is good but not always feasible) and by using relaxation techniques.

So relax. The watch is now watching you!

Author - Roberto Saracco

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