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MIT device measures walking speed with wireless signals to detect health problems

Darlene Storm | June 9, 2017
MIT researchers developed the WiGait so it measures walking speed, which can help predict potential health issues, by analyzing wireless signals. It is reportedly more accurate than a wearable such as Fitbit or GPS via a phone. The devices could help develop health-aware smart homes.

WiGait, which could be installed in smart homes to monitor health, is described as being capable of measuring walking speed "with a high level of granularity," without requiring any user interaction; there's no need for a person to wear or carry a sensor.

MIT PhD student Chen-Yu Hsu, lead author of the research paper, explained, "By using in-home sensors, we can see trends in how walking speed changes over longer periods of time. This can provide insight into whether someone should adjust their health regimen, whether that's doing physical therapy or altering their medications."

"Extracting Gait Velocity and Stride Length from Surrounding Radio Signals" (pdf) will be presented this month at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017).

The research paper concluded:

We believe our results [will] help develop smart homes that are health-aware and can monitor the safety and well-being of their occupants. Also, WiGait enables new interaction capabilities, and can be incorporated into user interfaces that adapt the environment as the user's health changes, e.g., the environment may encourage the user to exercise more, or alert family and friends for health emergencies.


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