Track & Monitor Your Health with These Fashionable Earrings
Hong Kong/ Digital/ Updates

These Stylish Earrings Monitor Your Health by Tracking Earlobe Temperature

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These Stylish Earrings Monitor Your Health by Tracking Earlobe Temperature Header Photo by Website/University of Washington

University of Washington researchers have introduced a groundbreaking innovation in wearable technology called the Thermal Earring.

This wireless wearable, about the size and weight of a small paperclip, offers continuous monitoring of a user's earlobe temperature, surpassing the capabilities of smartwatches. In a study involving six users, the Thermal Earring proved superior in sensing skin temperature during periods of rest and displayed promise in monitoring various vital signs such as stress levels, eating patterns, exercise, and ovulation.

One of the key advantages of the smart earring prototype is its compact size and long battery life, lasting up to 28 days. The earring features a magnetic clip that attaches a temperature sensor to the wearer's earlobe, while a second sensor hangs about an inch below to estimate room temperature. Interestingly, the earring's design can be personalized with fashion elements like resin shapes or gemstones without compromising its accuracy.

The results of this research were published on Jan. 12 in the Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies. However, the Thermal Earring is not yet commercially available, leaving eager users awaiting its release.

Co-lead author of the study Qiuyue (Shirley) Xue, a doctoral student at the University of Washington, explains the motivation behind the project: "Many people find smartwatches unfashionable or uncomfortable, which led us to explore unique alternatives. We discovered that monitoring skin temperature on the earlobe, as opposed to the hand or wrist, yielded more accurate results. Additionally, positioning part of the sensor to dangle helps separate ambient room temperature from skin temperature."

Developing a wearable device small enough to be worn as an earring yet robust enough to require charging only every few days posed a significant engineering challenge. By utilizing Bluetooth advertising mode instead of constant pairing, the earring achieves energy efficiency and extends its battery life.

The Thermal Earring's potential applications extend beyond temperature monitoring, including continuous fever tracking and ovulation and period tracking. Small-scale tests demonstrated its ability to detect temperature variations associated with eating, exercising, and stress. Compared to traditional smartwatches, the earring exhibited greater accuracy, with an average reading variation of 0.58°F (0.32°C) during resting periods, falling within the range necessary for ovulation and period tracking.

While the researchers have identified several promising applications, they acknowledge the need for further data collection and comprehensive testing before the Thermal Earring can be made available to the public. Future iterations of the device may incorporate heart rate and activity monitoring, as well as exploring alternative energy sources such as solar or kinetic energy.

Lead author Xue envisions a future where wearable jewellery sets provide comprehensive health monitoring. Earrings would track activity and health metrics like temperature and heart rate, while necklaces could serve as electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors for more accurate heart health data.

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