Faculty Name and Title: Sohmyung Ha, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering
Research Project Description:
Hydration of the body is a critical physiological health indicator, but it is challenging to measure accurately, especially in a wearable setting. Dehydration of workers lead to performance drop, and stroke by dehydration poses serious risks in construction sites. Current wearable methods for detecting dehydration are typically based on the analysis of different characteristics of the skin and body fluids, such as sweat and blood. Many of these methods are challenged with quality (accuracy/precision of measurement), power consumption, usability, mobility and cost.
This project aims at developing a dehydration monitoring system that fuses multiple modalities of measurement in order to enhance the quality of measurement, and improves usability by utilizing vibrotactile cues as a reliable and confidential modality for feedback. The proposed system utilizes multiple sensing modalities including bioimpedance, ambient and skin temperature and ion concentrations of the sweat simultaneously so that more accurate monitoring of the dehydration can be performed compared to other conventional methods using only one modality. A non-contact bioimpedance measurement method will be developed for the user's comfort and long-term usage. The sensor unit will be connected wirelessly with a hub base station, which is under supervision of workers' health condition. When a worker is at risk of dehydration, an immediate alert will be made through vibrotactile feedback to the wearer first, and then will be reported to the hub for prompt countermeasure.
The proposed project will explore correlations between the dehydration status and multiple factors including bioimpedance, ion concentration and temperature. This will lead to a much more accurate and reliable measure of dehydration. Upon these experimental study, we will develop a working prototype with all proposed functionalities.
The proposed system will be the first wearable dehydration sensor targeting at laborers working in harsh environments such as construction sites in this region. By providing continuous dehydration monitoring, the proposed sensor will significantly reduce risks of dehydration and associated casualties. Due to its unobtrusive wearability and long-term operation, it will benefit a much broader population not only in construction sites in the UAE and the Middle East, but also for people undergoing a high continuous physical workout like mining, farming, and emergency services, all of whom work in harsh conditions – and people who are working in less extreme environments, elderly people living at home, and people at sports like marathon. This will also serve as a safety measure for companies and governments across the region to avoid lawsuits, strikes, and death cases.
The proposed system will fully integrate all the required components for multimodal dehydration sensing, feedback alarming and wireless connection into a small form factor. The proposed system consists of a main sensor unit and additional auxiliary electrode unit, both of which will be interwoven in a work uniform vest. As shown in the figure below, the main sensor unit, which is embedded on an armband, includes 1) integrated circuit (IC) chips for sensing bioimpedance and ion concentration monitoring, 2) two temperature sensors for ambient and skin temperature monitoring, 3) microprocessor with Bluetooth Low Energy capability, 4) antenna for wireless connectivity, 5) battery, 6) electrodes, 7) vibration motors for vibrotactile feedback, etc. All the components will be encapsulated into a wrist-watch size for comfort wearability.
Responsibilities of the Position:
Development of the proposed sensor
Test of the sensor on human subjects
B.S. in electrical engineering
Grade A- or above on circuits and electronics courses
Embedded software for microcontrollers
Applicants to provide:
1. Statement of interest
3. Reprints of transcripts
4. Names and contact information for at least two people willing to provide letters of recommendation.
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Internal Number: 61190
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