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 Provost, the Pat and John Rosenwald Professor in the Department of Computer Science, and the Director of Emerging Technologies and Data Analytics in the Center for Technology and Behavioral Health, all at Dartmouth College. He previously served as Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Sciences and as the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Technology Studies. His research interests include security and privacy in smart homes, pervasive computing for healthcare, and wireless networks. He has published over 240 refereed papers, obtained $89m in grant funding, and mentored nearly 100 research students. He is an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow, a 2008 Fulbright Fellow to India, a 2019 Visiting Professor at ETH Zürich, and an elected member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his AB in Computer Science and Physics from Dartmouth in 1986, and his PhD in Computer Science from Duke University in 1991.

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