An Efficient Approach for Tracking Physical Activity with Wearable Health-Monitoring Devices

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed an energy-efficient technique for accurately tracking a user’s physical activity based on data from wearable devices.

One goal for wearable health technologies is to identify and track physical activity by the wearer. However, accomplishing this goal requires a trade-off between accuracy and the power needed for data analysis and storage, which is a challenge, given the limited power available for wearable devices.

“Tracking physical activity is important because it is a key component for placing other health data in context,” says Edgar Lobaton, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the new work. “For example, a spike in heart rate is normal when exercising, but can be an indicator of health problems in other circumstances.”

Devising technology for monitoring physical activity involves addressing two challenges. First, the program needs to know how much data to process when assessing activity. For example, looking at all of the data collected over a 10-second increment, or tau, takes twice as much computing power as evaluating all of the data over a five-second tau.

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