One of the newest wearables on the market does more than track fitness activities: it can detect epileptic seizures.
Embrace was born out of research at MIT’s Affective Computing Research Group, founded and directed by Professor Rosalind Picard ScD ’91. In 2007, Picard was studying stress levels in non-verbal autistic children by measuring electrodermal activity (EDA)—basically, the fluctuation of sweat on a person’s skin. While reviewing the project’s research data, Picard noticed a spike in activity from one of the participants. By chance, the sensor had detected a seizure.
Following this discovery, Picard joined Empatica as chief scientist to develop Embrace. The final product design is sleek and minimal—a key consideration in encouraging people to wear medical devices.
Two apps link Embrace to the user’s smartphone. The Empatica Mate provides feedback on stress levels, sleep patterns, and daily fitness activity. Empatica Alert includes all the features of the Mate, along with a system that monitors for seizure events. When a spike in stress levels is detected, Embrace begins to vibrate. If the wearer fails to turn off the vibration, an alert is sent to selected friends or family members.
Empatica completed a successful fundraiser in January, and plans to begin shipping its Embrace wristbands in July. The company is currently seeking clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is developing additional apps to monitor other chronic health conditions.
Learn more about Embrace at Empatica’s website.
Rosalind Picard was recently selected as one of CNN’s Seven Tech Superheroes to Watch in 2015.