The Amulet Project inspires students to answer questions about the usability of existing wearable devices. A guest post on the human factors blog tells their story.
We’re showing off the new wearable prototype of our Amulet device, today and tomorrow at the USA Science Festival in the Washington DC Convention Center. Come check it out! Amulet appears in the National Science Foundation’s “fashion show” in the NSF pavilion at 12pm and 3pm Saturday and Sunday, April 26-27.
The USA Science Festival is a great family outing – indeed, is targeted towards kids and families. It’s free and open to the public, and also includes five booths presenting other Dartmouth scientists (right next to the AAAS pavilion, upstairs).
- for tech researchers: An Amulet is computational jewelry, that is, a wearable computing device that is convenient and fashionable. It addresses the challenges of setting up and maintaining a secure and reliable body-area network of mobile-health devices. An Amulet serves as an identity proxy and provides essential body-area network services, such as device discovery and monitoring, authorization control for mobile apps, and a trusted path for interacting with the user. With a focused mHealth purpose, Amulet emphasizes security, privacy, and usability; the general-purpose smartphone platform remains to serve other applications. In the future, we believe, the smartphone will not be the preferred device for implementing a highly available WBAN controller. Rather, a very small wearable device will better meet the high availability requirements of mobile-health body area networks.
- for healthcare experts: A wearable wristband that is easy for patients (and other individuals) to use for managing other health-related devices they wear, carry, or use occasionally. It can support medical care, wellness enhancement, and health-related research. It enhances security and privacy, and does not require the patient to replace their cellphone (or require the provider to give the patient a smartphone).
- for everyone else: We envision a simple wristband that you can wear anywhere, any time, in any activity, which helps you monitor and manage your health. Unlike popular fitness trackers, this wristband talks to your other health and fitness devices, so they know it’s you using them – and gives you a quick and easy way to approve the transfer of health information from one device to another or to your health record. It can help track your use of medications and remind you when it’s time for the next dose. And, the wristband can provide critical health data to responders if you experience a medical emergency. It works with health-related apps on your smartphone or even on your smart television – but only when you and your Amulet are present and give permission.
With a new grant from the National Science Foundation’s Computer Systems Research program, our group at Dartmouth and Clemson are launching the Amulet project to study the potential for computational jewelry to support mobile-health applications.
The advent of mobile health (mHealth) technology brings great opportunity to improve quality of life, improve individual and public health, and reduce healthcare costs. Although mHealth devices and applications are proliferating, many challenges remain to provide the necessary usability, manageability, interoperability, availability, security, and privacy. The goal of this project is to engineer the tools for, and lay the scientific foundation of, secure wearable mHealth. In the process, we are developing a general framework for body-area pervasive computing, centered around health-monitoring and health-management applications.
Our vision is that computational jewelry, in a form like a bracelet or pendant, will provide the properties essential for successful body-area mHealth networks. These devices coordinate the activity of the body-area network and provide a discreet means for communicating with their wearer. Such devices complement the capabilities of a smartphone, bridging the gap between the type of pervasive computing possible with a mobile phone and that enabled by wearable computing.
Our interdisciplinary team of investigators is designing and developing ‘Amulet’, an electronic bracelet and a software framework that enables developers to create (and users to easily use) safe, secure, and efficient mHealth applications that fit seamlessly into everyday life. The research is determining the degree to which computational jewelry offers advantages in availability, reliability, security, privacy, and usability, and developing techniques that provide these properties in spite of the severely-constrained power resources of wearable jewelry.
We described our vision for this concept in a 2012 HotMobile paper. Subscribe to this blog to hear more about it as our research evolves!