Friday February 21, 2020

New Smart Speaker that Tracks Baby’s Breathing Using White Noise

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin from Washington University, develops a new smart speaker to monitor movement in babies

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Researchers, have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin from Washington University, have developed a new smart speaker skill that lets a device use white noise to both soothe sleeping babies and monitor their breathing and movement.

White noise is a combination of different sound frequencies, which makes a seemingly random soothing sound that can help cover up other noises that might wake up a sleeping baby.

“If we could use this white noise feature as a contactless way to monitor infants’ hand and leg movements, breathing and crying, then the smart speaker becomes a device that can do it all, which is really exciting,” said Indian-origin researcher and study co-author Shyam Gollakota, Associate Professor at Washington University.

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White Noise feature as a contactless way to monitor infants’ hand and leg movements, breathing and crying, then the smart speaker becomes a device that can do it all (Representational Image). Pixabay

To use white noise as a breathing monitor, the team needed to develop a method to detect tiny changes between the white noise a smart speaker plays and the white noise that gets reflected back from the infant’s body into the speaker’s array of microphones.

The prototype device, called BreathJunior, tracks both small motions — such as the chest movement involved in breathing — and large motions — such as babies moving around in their cribs. It can also pick up the sound of a baby crying.

The prototype device was first tested on an infant simulator showing the system could accurately detect respiratory rates between 20 and 60 breaths per minute.

BreathJunior was then tested on five babies in a neonatal intensive care unit, with the babies connected to wired respiratory monitors for comparison.

Again, the system proved accurate, tracking respiratory rates up to 65 breaths per minute, closely matching the rates detected by wired, hospital-grade devices.

“We start out by transmitting a random white noise signal. But we are generating this random signal, so we know exactly what the randomness is,” said study author Anran Wang.

“That signal goes out and reflects off the baby. Then the smart speaker’s microphones get a random signal back. Because we know the original signal, we can cancel out any randomness from that and then we’re left with only information about the motion from the baby,” Wang said.

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Smart Speaker monitors Baby’s Breathing and Crying. Pixabay

“BreathJunior holds potential for parents who want to use white noise to help their child sleep and who also want a way to monitor their child’s breathing and motion,” Wang added.

While BreathJunior currently uses white noise to track breathing and motion, the researchers would like to expand its capabilities so that it could also use other soothing sounds like lullabies.

ALSO READ: Uber Lays off 350 Staff Across Eats, Self-driving Wings

The study is scheduled to be presented at the MobiCom 2019 conference in Los Cabos, Mexico on October 22. (IANS)

Next Story

What is the Potential of Virtual Reality in the Workplace?

Virtual reality has the potential to help people empathize with each other, as you can use VR headsets and software to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’

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VR refers to the use of hardware equipped with sensors, allowing users to interact with computer-generated simulations of 3D environments.

Virtual reality is making a splash in all kinds of industries around the world. It has been estimated that the VR market will be worth more than $30 billion by 2020. Online giants such as Facebook and Google, phone companies like Apple and Samsung, publications like the New York Times, and airlines around the world have all invested in VR hardware and software

VR refers to the use of hardware equipped with sensors, allowing users to interact with computer-generated simulations of 3D environments. While the term ‘VR’ might make you think of video games, and movies, it is clear that this new technology will have a big impact on customer service, engagement, and the workplace in general.

How will VR affect the workplace, and what is its potential for customer service?

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Virtual reality is making a splash in all kinds of industries around the world.
  1. Customer Service costs will be cheaper than ever

Every business calculates its ‘cost to serve’ (CTS), one of the most important metrics for determining profitability. The lower the CTS, the better the overall margin, and the higher the profits. VR software can be used to serve customers more efficiently and effectively by allowing customers to assess and troubleshoot their own issues themselves.

For instance, VR could enable a customer to troubleshoot their own computer issues, or could help them to assemble a piece of furniture or follow a recipe. A customer could follow the instructions in real time, allowing them to follow along without the confusion of paper instructions. 

In addition, VR could also be used to create training programs for employees, lowering the cost of education and training for companies. VR scenarios could be crafted that correspond to specific customer service needs, helping agents to become more adept at dealing with any issues that arise.  

  1. You’ll be able to ‘walk in your customers’ shoes’

Virtual reality has the potential to help people empathize with each other, as you can use VR headsets and software to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’. VR programs are being developed to help employees understand and appreciate their customers’ pain points, needs, and customer service requirements. 

VR software can be used to create experiences that simulate all aspects of the consumer process in order to help employees understand what clients and consumers are looking for. As studies seem to show that VR can actually make people more empathetic towards one another, this strategy could go a long way in preparing employees to deal with your customers’ needs.

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While the term ‘VR’ might make you think of video games, and movies, it is clear that this new technology will have a big impact on customer service, engagement, and the workplace in general.
  1. More and more people will work remotely

Online capacities and new technology have made it possible for more Americans to work from home, coffee shops, and even while trotting the globe. Over the past 5 years alone, the number of Americans who have mainly worked remotely has increased by 4%. The same study shows that nearly 45% report working remotely at least part of the time. 

VR makes working remotely easier than it has ever been in the past. Employees are able to connect with one another online, speak in chat rooms, and experience new ideas. 

  1. Marketers will have more options at their disposal

Social media platforms have changed the way that advertisers market their products and services to potential clients and consumers. Digital ads are now a massive industry, and VR is now set to disrupt and change the methods used to reach out to people online. 

New technologies will allow companies to create branded VR content that will entice and excite consumers, boosting engagement and propelling sales. 

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Virtual reality has the potential to help people empathize with each other, as you can use VR headsets and software to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’.
  1. New products will hit the market faster due to virtual prototyping 

Many international companies, such as Boeing and Raytheon, are now using virtual reality to develop and create new products faster than ever. VR is allowing customers to sample and engage with products and services, testing them out before they hit the broader market. The focus groups of the past will be replaced with hyper-accurate product testing and market predictions, fuelled by the power of VR.

ALSO READ: New EUV-Equipped Chips By Samsung Get into Mass Production

Will VR change your workplace?

No matter which industry you work in, the answer to the question ‘will VR change your workplace?’ is a resounding ‘yes’. VR has been changing video games and films for years. How will it change the way you work with your customers?