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Do You Know What All Activities Your Smartwatch Can Sense? Read Here To Find Out!

Apps might alert users to typing habits that could lead to repetitive strain injury (RSI), or assess the onset of motor impairments such as those associated with Parkinson's disease.

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To reach this conclusion, Harrison and his team began their exploration of hand activity detection by recruiting 50 people to wear specially programmed smartwatches for almost 1,000 hours while going about their daily activities. Pixabay

Smartwatches, with a few tweaks, can detect a surprising number of things your hands are doing like helping your spouse with washing dishes, chopping vegetables or petting a dog, say researchers from Carnegie Mellon University.

By making a few changes to the smartwatch’s operating system, they were able to use its accelerometer to recognise hand motions and, in some cases, bio-acoustic sounds associated with 25 different hand activities at around 95 percent accuracy.

Those 25 activities (including typing on a keyboard, washing dishes, petting a dog, pouring from a pitcher or cutting with scissors) are just the beginning of what might be possible to detect, the researchers said.

“We envision smartwatches as a unique beachhead on the body for capturing rich, everyday activities,” said Chris Harrison, Assistant Professor in Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) at Carnegie.

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Sensing hand activity also lends itself to health-related apps — monitoring activities such as brushing teeth, washing hands or smoking a cigarette.
Pixabay

“A wide variety of apps could be made smarter and more context-sensitive if our devices knew the activity of our bodies and hands,” he added.

Just as smartphones now can block text messages while a user is driving, future devices that sense hand activity might learn not to interrupt someone while they are doing certain work with their hands.

Sensing hand activity also lends itself to health-related apps — monitoring activities such as brushing teeth, washing hands or smoking a cigarette.

“Hand-sensing also might be used by apps that provide feedback to users who are learning a new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, or undergoing physical rehabilitation,” the study noted.

Apps might alert users to typing habits that could lead to repetitive strain injury (RSI), or assess the onset of motor impairments such as those associated with Parkinson’s disease.

To reach this conclusion, Harrison and his team began their exploration of hand activity detection by recruiting 50 people to wear specially programmed smartwatches for almost 1,000 hours while going about their daily activities.

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Those 25 activities (including typing on a keyboard, washing dishes, petting a dog, pouring from a pitcher or cutting with scissors) are just the beginning of what might be possible to detect, the researchers said.
Pixabay

More than 80 hand activities were labeled in this way, providing a unique dataset.

For now, users must wear the smartwatch on their active arm, rather than the passive (non-dominant) arm where people typically wear wristwatches, for the system to work.

Also Read: Facebook Creating ‘Inequalities’ Through Political Advertisements

Future experiments will explore what events can be detected using the passive arm.

Harrison and HCII PhD student Gierad Laput presented the findings at “CHI 2019”, the Association for Computing Machinery’s conference on human factors in computing systems in Glasgow, Scotland. (IANS)

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East African Countries Set to Ban Skin-Lightening Products Containing Hydroquinone

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health

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FILE - Aranmolate Ayobami, plastic surgeon at Grandville Medical and Laser clinic in Lagos, holds a tube of Skinlite a skin lightening product used at his clinic, on July 17, 2018, in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

East African countries are set to ban skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent linked to health problems when used in high concentrations. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution calling for a region-wide ban on the manufacturing and importation of products containing hydroquinone.

At a beauty parlor in Arusha, 52-year-old Rose Mselle has been using skin-bleaching products since she was a teenager. She says women like her want to be beautiful. “And in the process of looking for beauty, or for our skin color to shine, we use things that we shouldn’t,” she added.

At a nearby market, 32-year-old clothing vendor Janet Jonijosefu used skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent used to treat dark spots, for years. She stopped after her skin became fragile.

She said the beauty products containing hydroquinone badly affected her skin. She started developing patches on her face. She went to the doctor and was advised to stop using products containing hydroquinone and instead use aloe vera.

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FILE – A shop sells skin-lightening products in Accra, Ghana, on July 3, 2018. VOA

Skin-lightening products often use high concentrations of hydroquinone, which can cause skin problems or become toxic when mixed with other bleaching chemicals.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa ban or regulate the agent in cosmetics. Tanzania bars imports. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution on a region-wide ban of hydroquinone’s manufacture and importation.

Suzan Nakawuki, a member of the regional assembly from Uganda, noted that hydroquinone is not only used by women but also men. “We have seen men bleaching seriously even more than women,” she said. “But it’s becoming a problem. If we don’t regulate it, it is going to become very problematic.”

When used medically, hydroquinone can be an effective treatment for skin discoloration. Some East African lawmakers spoke out against a blanket ban. Aden Abdikadir, a lawmaker from Kenya, said he is concerned a blanket ban will cause “serious trade disruption” for cosmetics.

skin-lightening products
If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. Wikimedia Commons

If signed by heads of state, the ban becomes law in all six East African Community states, which include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Critics point out bans on hydroquinone have failed to stop smuggled products from being sold openly. Cosmetics labeled as having hydroquinone are on display at shops in Arusha.

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. (VOA)