Innovation That Matters

Wall-mounted health monitor detects walking speeds and patterns


MIT has developed the WiGait, a picture-sized sensor that can determine the speeds and walking patterns of people walking past it, without any wearables.

Health monitors are an important part of keeping the population fit and well and we’ve seen many new inventions of late. These smart socks give diabetics warnings of damaging foot ulcers, and there are smart bras which can monitor cardiovascular health. But not everyone likes wearable monitors. A research team at MIT – in collaboration with Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Boston University School of Medicine – has developed a new kind of health monitor that is hanged on the wall and transmits low-range radio signals to study the walking patterns and speeds of multiple people at once.

Called WiGait, it’s the size of a picture, can work through walls and has a radius of 9 to 12 feet. It doesn’t need any wearables at all – users simply walk past it, and it records the data based on how body movement interferes with the radio signals (at the moment, with 95 to 99 percent accuracy).

Ph.D student Chen-Yu Hsu explained: “Technological advances have made it possible to envision a world where the home can use ambient wireless signals to monitor the health of its occupants, track metrics related to chronic diseases, and alert the caregiver for health emergencies and risks.”

The speed at which people walk can give warnings to health problems such as strokes, heart and lung diseases. It’s hoped it’ll be able to help keep safe the elderly, particularly the elderly who live alone. Once refined Chen-Yu has said they are hoping to launch a start-up and make the tech commercial. Would you consider a device like this to help keep an eye on an elderly relative?



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