Why Are Body Sensors Important?

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One of the things that I've found in the early days of Body Sensor Networks I before we'd even had that as a name. I spent a lot of times with the University of Virginia I'm very lucky to have, it's a comprehensive university so I could just walk across the grounds and go to the medical school, or the nursing schools, psychology department and just talk to people and understand what some of the issues were that they saw in their field.

The thing that I heard time and time again was how important data is, in the research they do and how they treat their patients, but how difficult it is to obtain good data. Sort of the two extremes that are the ones most heavily relied upon are inpatient monitoring. You come into the hospital or some other medical facility, you're hooked up to some very high tech equipment that gives you very high quality data, but you're just getting that snapshot of how they're doing at that moment.

And then when you add white coat syndrome the alleviated blood pressure that often comes along with just being in a doctor's office, the snap shot that you get, might not be at all representative of how someone's typically doing out in the real world. The other extreme of course is the patient self report.

So one of the things I found out was that when I go to the doctor's office and they ask me that question, of how are you doing? Or how is this new medication working out for you? How I answer that question is actually much more important than I had thought. They listen carefully and they make some decisions based on what you say, so you really have those two extremes basically very high quality data in terms of making sure that that ECG signal is exactly right, that you can capture in the hospital.

But very invasive, very expensive and just getting that one snapshot to something where I'm with myself all the time so I don't have a continuity problem with patient self report but of course the quality of the data that I can provide in terms of its precision and accuracy is of course very limited.

So Body Sensor Networks have an opportunity to get the best of both worlds. As to take some of these capabilities for high-precision physiological and motion assessment but making that portable and continuous and then ideally non-invasive, so it's something that's easy for a person to wear over an extended period of time.