Effectively turning data from wearables into actionable information - challenges and solutions

The Sirris Data Innovation team participated in the European Congress on Innovation in Textiles for Healthcare, which brought together key players from both the textiles and healthcare sectors, in order to present and discuss how innovations in these sectors can help to improve quality of life. Sirris gave a presentation on the challenges related to turning data collected via wearables and other sensors present in a user's environment into actionable information.

Beginning of February, the second edition of the European Congress on Innovation in Textiles for Healthcare was organised by Centexbel, Fedustria, POM West-Vlaanderen, Innovatiecentrum and Enterprise Europe Network. The Sirris Data Innovation team's presentation focused on the challenges related to turning the data collected via wearables and other sensors present in a user's environment into actionable information that can effectively support improving quality of life.

Applications supporting us in improving our overall quality of life are gaining more and more attention recently due to the large paradigm shift to embedded and wearable devices. These are devices that integrate gradually better in our everyday life and that monitor and evaluate our physiological parameters, activities, general well-being and health status on a continuous basis. Well-known examples are smartwatches that keep track of how active we are throughout a day and that try to encourage us to move more or fitness trackers that monitor our performance while exercising and that try to help us get better at these exercises and even avoid certain injuries.

Limitations to embedded and wearable devices

However, most of these applications exhibit major limitations that hamper the objectives for which they were initially built:

  • Fragmented data capturing & analysis. Users are typically monitored via individual devices that are mostly unaware of each other. As a result, the available user data is fragmented. Optimally exploiting all the available data would enable to derive valuable insights about user behaviour and performed activities.
  • Limited personalisation. The degree of personalisation is to a very large extent dependent on the possibility to collect exhaustive objective and subjective knowledge about individual users and their context (e.g. life style, health condition, habits, daily routines, family situation) in the form of a user profile. However, the fragmentation at the level of data capturing results in fragmented knowledge about individual users and obstructs the construction of reliable user profiles. The latter prevents on the one hand the analysis of the collected data in the specific context of a user, and on the other hand the delivery of personalised feedback.
  • Reactive behaviour. Almost all user tracking and monitoring applications presently available on the market are providing users with feedback on past activities (e.g. basic activity statistics), and evolution trends or progress towards predefined and slightly adaptable objectives. Users are usually encouraged, via recommendations and warning messages, to keep up to their best recorded activity intensity. However, feedback offered to users is usually of reactive nature, while it should pro-actively support users in achieving their objectives.

At the congress the Sirris Data Innovation team presented these limitations and elaborated on how to address them, in order to enable personalised and context-aware quality of life analytics, focusing on topics such as multi-source data capturing and integration, enriched activity detection and context recognition, multi-person segregation and dynamic user profiling.

Are you facing one of the challenges mentioned above and looking for support? Are you collecting data via a wearable or another embedded device and would you like to explore how to effectively exploit this data? Get in touch with us!

Our related research topics:

SMARTpro, a knowledge transfer oriented project aiming to stimulate collaboration between textile, electronics and ICT companies, in order to build intelligent wearable solutions.

CareWare, a European R&D project aiming to develop electronic wearable solutions, in which Sirris is involved in a use case around patient monitoring in a hospital.