mHealth jewelry enables wearers to manage multiple wireless health devices

If wearing a smartwatch isn't your thing, emerging mHealth jewelry accessories--developed by researchers at Clemson University and Dartmouth College--may prove a better fit, at least for those striving to track fitness, vital signs and other healthcare concerns all at once.

The researchers' first offering, Amulet--an electronic bracelet boasting a framework for software incorporation--was unveiled late last month at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in the District of Columbia, Clemson announced. The research team describes the bracelet as featuring the capabilities of a smartphone and bridging the gap between universal computing on a mobile phone and the functionality of a wearable computing device.

Clemson and Dartmouth last fall were awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the jewelry.

"The advent of mobile health technology brings great opportunity to improve quality of life, individual and public health and reduce healthcare costs," Kelly Caine, an assistant professor in the Human-Centered Computing Division at Clemson who leads human factors development for Amulet, said, according to the announcement. "Although mobile health devices and applications are proliferating, many challenges remain to provide the necessary usability, manageability, interoperability, availability, security and privacy."

The news comes as wearable mHealth devices are burgeoning, with global shipments of wearable tech predicted to hit 19.2 million this year and reach 112 million in 2018. New technological advancements in components, such as bendable antennas, also are taking off, and consumers are getting hungrier each year for wearable mobile healthcare tech.

According to Clemson researchers, the Amulet framework, which is still in development, will support body-area pervasive computing for health-monitoring and health-management applications.

"Our vision is that computational jewelry, like Amulet, provides the properties essential for successful body-area mobile health networks," Jacob Sorber, an assistant professor in the Computer Science Division at Clemson, said. "This device coordinates the activity of the body-area network and provides a discreet means for communicating with their wearer."

The researchers are examining what advantages computational jewelry may provide when it comes to availability, reliability, security, privacy and usability. And, according to Sorber, Amulet talks to a user's other health and fitness devices, streamlining the transfer of health information from one device to another, or to a health record.

For more information:
- read the announcement