Announcing the Auracle project

Obesity is one of the most pressing health challenges faced by our country, and has been the target of much attention in the academic and commercial mobile health (mHealth) community. Despite the community’s significant effort in developing technology to measure physical activity (in an effort to estimate caloric output), little progress has been made in measuring eating and drinking behavior (caloric intake) – and yet the science of obesity indicates that diet is a major factor in behavioral change to encourage weight loss and healthy weight management.

In the Auracle project we plan to develop a digital earpiece – small and comfortable enough to wear in or behind the ear – that can sense and detect actions such as eating, drinking, smoking, and speaking, and measure physiological stress.  The project’s long-term vision is that computational jewelry like this earpiece will enable behavioral-health researchers to better understand health-related behaviors and, subsequently, to support the validation and deployment of effective behavioral-health interventions that promote healthy diet and behavior.

The project’s approach is to build a prototype wireless earpiece, small enough to wear behind the ear, with low-power (microwatt-scale) electronics and software sufficient to allow for the battery to last a full waking day; to develop efficient algorithms for detecting and distinguishing health-related behaviors (eating, drinking, smoking, speaking, and stress); and to develop effective means for the wearer to interact with the earpiece and its applications.

Author: David Kotz

David Kotz is the Champion International Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College. He served as Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Sciences for six years and as the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Technology Studies for four years. In 2013 he was appointed to the US Healthcare IT Policy Committee. His research interests include security and privacy, pervasive computing for healthcare, and wireless networks. He has published over 100 refereed journal and conference papers and obtained over $65m in grant funding. He is PI of a $10m grant from the NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program and leads a five-university team investigating Trustworthy Health & Wellness technology (see thaw.org). He is an IEEE Fellow, a Senior Member of the ACM, a 2008 Fulbright Fellow to India, and an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa. After receiving his A.B. in Computer Science and Physics from Dartmouth in 1986, he completed his Ph.D in Computer Science from Duke University in 1991 and returned to Dartmouth to join the faculty. For more information see http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~dfk/.

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