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Smartwatch Reliability for Health Research

Presenters Name: 
Courtney Jacobs
Primary Research Mentor: 
Laura Barnes
Secondary Research Mentor: 
Mehdi Boukhechba
12:45 - 1:00
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 12:45pm to 1:00pm
Commonwealth Room
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

Many human health studies require complex equipment and unwieldy wiring to accurately measure bodily functions such as heart rate. In this age of smartphones and smartwatches, potential study participants may already own an iPhone which tracks steps and sleep or an Android watch with a sensitive accelerometer and continuous heart rate monitoring. Thus, the potential value of using these smart devices in health research has skyrocketed, touting benefits such as user familiarity, comfort, portability, and lower price points. As these devices improve and are able to collect higher quality data, they will continue to usher in a new era of health research. The goal of my project is to test smart watches against established but more bulky and complex devices to see if the data quality is accurate enough to use smart watches instead of older devices in further research. The measurements I compare are accelerometer and PPG (photoplethysmogram) because they are fundamental to understanding physical activity levels and cardiac function. The experiment compares two smartwatches made by Empatica and Huawei with an established system made by Shimmer Sensing. By wearing them at the same time and performing common activities such as sitting, standing, and walking, the data collected by each device can be compared. Plotting this data will reveal the extent of the watches’ capabilities. If the smart watches are found to be consistently close to the Shimmer device in accuracy and quality, then they can be used in future health studies, bringing along their additional benefits.