eWatch Will Measure Exposure to Daily Life Stressors

 Technology Began in Rapid Prototyping Class

November 26, 2007

Daniel Siewiorek, Buhl University Professor of ECE and CS, Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), and Asim Smailagic, Research Professor of ECE and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES) are co-investigators in a new study that has received a $426,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In a team lead by Pitt Psychology Professor Thomas Kamarck, they will study the effectiveness of a wrist-mounted instrument for measuring psychosocial stress exposure during the course of daily life.

The study will make use of the eWatch — a multi-sensor package about the size of a large wristwatch created by Siewiorek and Smailagic. The grant is for the first year of their four-year project, which is part of a larger NIH initiative to study environmental factors that people encounter every day that may increase their risk of certain diseases.

First developed at Carnegie Mellon in 2004 as a class project for Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems, the eWatch has been the subject of a number of studies in which it has shown itself capable of monitoring behaviors and conditions.

"This new study is important in eWatch's development because it requires that we simplify the device's operation," Siewiorek said. "The eWatch must be simple enough to be used by anyone who wears it, even those who are not technically savvy. And we need to develop manuals and written procedures that will make it possible for other research groups to use it to gather data for their own studies."

In the new study, participants will be outfitted with an eWatch — which senses sound, motion, temperature and other factors. It will also ask participants questions about their activities and record their answers.

While previous studies show those who report stressful lifestyles develop higher rates of a variety of illnesses, measuring exposure to stress is problematic.

Use of the eWatch will not only help target environmental data present during highly stressful situations, but also improve the eWatch's future functionality.

"We want to capture a slice of life in people's daily routine," says Kamarck. "We hope that these new tools will allow us to do so while minimizing disruptions imposed by the act of measurement."

In addition to Siewiorek and Smailagic, Kamarck's collaborators include Pitt Psychology Professor Saul Shiffman and Pitt Research Associate Barbara Anderson.

Source: Byron Spice and Anne Watzman/SCS Media Relations

The eWatch was developed by ECE faculty members Daniel Siewiorek and Asim Smailagic.

Headshot of Daniel Siewiorek

Headshot of Asim Smailagic

Related People:

Daniel Siewiorek

Asim Smailagic

Related Groups:

HCII

ICES

Related Links:

Carnegie Mellon Homepage

eWatch

Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems

Carnegie Mellon News Release