Wearables enable early detection of stress

Fontys Information and Communication Technology
Healthcare in the Netherlands is under pressure. Waiting lists, understaffing, and limited space for patient care are the result. No wonder solutions are being diligently sought, in which technology often plays a major role. In the project 'From sensors to care: Applying stress measurements with wearables in practice', Fontys ICT researchers explore the possibilities that smart devices offer to enable preventive care and timely signalling. During the semester delivery, the end of a project period in education, the first results were shared with stakeholders.

Wearables are everyday devices such as our smartphone, smartwatch and specific items we wear on our skin. A good example is the Fitbit, a small sensor on the wrist that collects various biometric data, which can be indicative of your specific physical state. Various devices are also available for medical application, all of which collect data about you as a user. So we are talking about sensors, which in this way can do that job in the most non-invasive way possible as opposed to older medical sensors that could significantly interfere with the user/patient. The current generation of personal devices offers numerous possibilities, within the project 'From sensors to care: applying stress measurements with wearables in practice', these are being explored by a team with different areas of expertise.

Biometric data 
Sensors in wearables collect what we call 'biometric data', which is data about our body and its functioning. This data provides a lot of insights into a person's well-being and health. We know enough about our physical state to signal a certain state based on certain data and trends. An example is stress; it can be easily recognised by an acceleration of the heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, and a physical restlessness.

Social relevance 
Sensor technology offers many opportunities for healthcare and raises questions about the responsibility involved in the allocation of technology, but privacy questions also arise. This makes the project an excellent opportunity for an interdisciplinary collaboration where care, technology and legal come together. Several Fontys institutes are therefore working together with a consortium of partner companies. In the video, project leader Dr Manon Peeters, Dr Noortje Lavrijssen of the Juridische Hogeschool and Jan van Holten of Kinetic Analysis tell more about the goals and results of the project.