Nokia Bell Labs is a founding member of the Stanford Wearable Electronics (e-WEAR) Initiative Affiliates Program, supporting pathfinding projects for wearable technology that seek to allow remote collection of vital information and provide a more seamless interface with the people using it.
One of the e-WEAR Initiatives’ recent projects is BodyNet. Focused on the role of stretchable/flexible electronics, BodyNet aims to tie current wearables, including implants and smart clothes, into a common system that would provide users with new abilities based on the real-time information being gathered about their environment, emotions and health.
Whereas many of today’s wearable electronics are measurement centric, BodyNet would be more application centric: aggregating, analyzing, and presenting the data in such a way that users could share, understand or address situations or experiences in completely new ways. This data could be wirelessly shared with others or withheld based on the users’ preferences and privacy settings.
Today, for example, the caregiver for someone with dementia may have troubles reading the person’s mood or detecting an infection due to the inability of the afflicted to communicate. Wearable devices that allow for the simultaneous measurement of vital signs, biochemical levels, etc., could potentially enable BodyNet to alert the caregiver as to whether their loved one is feeling happy, scared or in pain.
The number of use cases seems limitless. While numerous technical challenges lie ahead, researchers are excited about BodyNet’s prospects.
“The e-WEAR Affiliates program complements our own disruptive research in next generation health and well-being,” said Sanjay Patel, head of Nokia Bell Labs’ Emerging Materials, Components & Devices Lab. “Not only does it give us the opportunity to influence new areas of research, it provides a forum where fresh ideas from some of the best minds at Stanford and the industrial world can come together to accelerate innovation.”
Additional e-WEAR initiatives include skin-inspired electronic materials, robotic surgery and wearable haptic interfaces among other things.