Sensors for detecting substance abuse

Last week’s ATA also included a session on a test of using an already-existing sensor system–the Zephyr BioHarness–to detect substance abuse. Dr. Jin Ho Yoon, a psychologist at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas) is leading the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded test of tracking cardiovascular and respiratory changes in cocaine users. An in-hospital test with low levels of cocaine in saline detected a sharp increase in heart rates for the first 10 minutes after exposure, with increased heartbeat versus the control group throughout the entire 30-minute measuring period. The plus side is that it works outside hospital monitoring; the minus is that the battery in the chest strap only is good for one day. The end is to discover what triggers addicts’ relapses. The Baylor team is also evaluating the BioHarness for smoking cessation and exercise in obese patients. Mobihealthnews (extended article).  GigaOm also notes the wristband iHeal from the University of Massachusetts Medical School which detects changes in the electrical activity of the skin, body motion, skin temperature and heart rate to determine when the user might be on the verge of risky behavior like substance abuse.

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