Manifest Boston Stories

HUB Madness Lightning Interview: Wearable Sensors that Forecast Changing From Healthy to Sick

Written by Zoe Dobuler | Apr 3, 2019 5:01:00 PM

HUB Madness 2019 presented by BNY Mellon is in full swing! To find out more about Empatica's new smart watch that can forecast when its wearer is becoming sick even before symptoms appear, we caught up with Chelsea Trengrove, Empatica's Program Manager. Check out her lightning interview below for the inside scoop on her team's project.

Some background on the project:

Empatica's recently announced smart watch, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Government's BARDA Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe), can alert users when they are developing a serious respiratory infection, before any symptoms appear. The new smart watch will be based on the technology of Empatica's FDA-cleared Embrace2, a device widely worn by people living with epilepsy. Embrace2 uses advanced machine learning to monitor physiological signals, detect any unusual patterns and immediately notify caregivers in the case of possible convulsive seizures. The partnership with DRIVe will utilize this technology to evaluate health signatures that can predict pathogen exposures prior to the manifestation of any symptoms, and alert the user and any caregivers.

Where did the idea for your project come from? What inspired your team to create it?
We were actually responding to a HHS/BARDA/DRIVe government call for wearables to participate in an influenza forecasting initiative. Internally, Empatica had some promising findings in this area, so we knew it would be the perfect fit!

What has been the biggest challenge of the project? How have you overcome it?
Aside from figuring out the logistics of the study, the most important data to be gathered, and the means by which the data is acquired, I think the biggest and most exciting challenge lies ahead in combing through the study data.

What makes this new technology so revolutionary?
Are you kidding! Developing a beautiful and comfortable wearable device that not only fits into your life, but also let’s you know you might be about to get sick? Well, I think that would certainly feel like we’d made it to the future.

What's next for this technology? What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2019?
Right now we have to focus on collecting enough quality data to make for meaningful machine learning. We’re hopeful that this initial study will give us the building blocks to start developing an algorithm to help you know how sick or well you really are.

What did you think was the coolest thing to come out of Greater Boston last year (aside from your project, of course)?
Great question. There has been so much innovation coming out of Boston. REACT neuro is doing some pretty cool work on concussions. And I know the hardware/mechanical team can’t get enough of Onshape.

Cast your vote for Empatica's Smart Watch before the Epic Eight round ends on April 3!