'Fitbit on steroids' could help people with dementia - and the army

Innovative wearable could have significant uses in many areas
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Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have created a device for tracking the activities of people with dementia, which could also prove useful for the army.

The wearable tracks movements, heart rate, respiration rate, and monitors the temperature, humidity and barometric air pressure. It also measures galvanic skin response, which indicates the wearer's emotional state, while GPS and Bluetooth means the wearer's location can be tracked.

The idea is that healthcare providers would be able to keep a continual monitor on patients, using machine learning to put the data in context.

The tracker, which looks like an oversized watch, doesn't have to stay on the wrist either - it's designed to be worn on other body parts.

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But it's not just dementia patients that this could help; the army has shown interest in the device's potential use for monitoring soldiers. For example, training recruits is expensive, and if one has concussion they have to retake the entire course. That time and expense could be avoided if the head trauma was caught early - something the tracker could potentially do.

The device could also study soldiers' physiological responses to other elements, while the heart rate monitor, respiration tracker and GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) could detect if a soldier is hesitant in firing a gun.

"The great benefit for the army is, at the individual level, they get discrete information on soldiers," said Steve Tupper, Ford Leonard Wood's Liaison Officer, in the university's release, which called the device "Fitbit on steroids".

Fort Leonard Wood's Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bergmann added: "Many drill sergeant training corrections boil down to increasing the level of self-awareness to increase controlled breathing, accurate site picture and overall relaxation while simultaneously decreasing trigger jerking, muscle tensing and distracting extraneous limb movements.

"This device would be the objective, continuously monitoring honest broker for drill sergeants and trainees to identify and target the root cause of the failed fundamentals of rifle marksmanship."

'Fitbit on steroids' could help people with dementia - and the army

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Hugh Langley


Now at Business Insider, Hugh originally joined Wareable from TechRadar where he’d been writing news, features, reviews and just about everything else you can think of for three years.

Hugh is now a correspondent at Business Insider.

Prior to Wareable, Hugh freelanced while studying, writing about bad indie bands and slightly better movies. He found his way into tech journalism at the beginning of the wearables boom, when everyone was talking about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift was merely a Kickstarter campaign - and has been fascinated ever since.

He’s particularly interested in VR and any fitness tech that will help him (eventually) get back into shape. Hugh has also written for T3, Wired, Total Film, Little White Lies and China Daily.

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