The use of smart sensing plays a key role in the management of lifestyle and personal wellbeing. At present, multiple sensing options exist both for monitoring lifestyle behaviour and for intervening when necessary. Physical activity is an excellent example, where the vast number of devices available reflects the abundance of evidence associating inactivity with poor health. Activity monitors have progressed from simple uni-axial pedometers not only through technological advances, but also through user-orientated design. Simple sensors disguised in wristwatches are one popular option for activity monitoring. Devices such as the iWatch, Microsoft Band, Sensixa e-AR, Fitbit, Jawbone, Basis and BodyMedia all allow pervasive monitoring of daily activity with real-time user feedback. The value of the sensor is improved through user-friendly software that allows personalised activity goals to be set, and progress towards those goals to be displayed throughout the day or reviewed later. Such sensors have been shown to improve quality of life as much as costly supervised exercise programmes and weight management. Other popular applications include sleep monitoring and dietary management.
At the Hamlyn Centre, we are developing both sensors for detailed personal lifestyle/wellbeing monitoring and mobile apps for encouraging behaviour modification. One area of application is for the management of obesity. Obesity is a growing global health problem that has received increasing interest from the modern healthcare system. Recent statistics estimate over 700 million are people classified as obese. Most of these people live in countries with good economics, such as the USA, China and Europe. Just in the UK, the number of people with obesity has more than trebled in the last 25 years. Obesity is linked to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
For food intake monitoring, we have developed vision based recognition methods. Assessment of food intake has a wide range of applications in public health and lifestyle related chronic disease management. Specifically, real-time food recognition platforms combined with daily activity and energy expenditure estimations can be used to control the calorie balance of the user. Food recognition can be obtained by exploiting recent computer vision methodology supported by an efficient software implementation suitable for real-time mobile device execution. Daily energy expenditure estimation, on the other hand, is achieved using the built-in inertial motion sensors of the mobile device.
Traditional methods for dietary assessments require subjects to manually respond to information questionnaires or rely on self-reporting. These methods are often inaccurate due to subjects tending to underreport and miscalculate food consumption. As such, new approaches that provide objective assessment of free-living food intake patterns in humans are necessary to accurately monitor eating behaviour. Computer vision algorithms have been developed to detect and characterise food intake activity by capturing sounds generated during chewing and swallowing of food using an in-ear microphone. We have also combined food intake with a physical activity recognition system so that we can monitor calorie intake and energy expenditure at the same time.
Download Our Fee Mobile App (ActiveMiles) for Lifestyle and Wellbeing Monitoring
ActiveMiles is a completely free mobile phone app that allows you to track your daily activity, compare it with your friends and observe your change of activity with location. Increasing daily activity can have a great effect on your overall health, so why wait? It’s a fun app that’s very easy to use, so give it a try! Collecting more ActiveMiles will not only be beneficial to your overall health but can be traded for rewards. Keep an eye on our website for reward ideas.