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Wearable RH/T sensors track ambient conditions

Posted: 07 Apr 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wearable? temperature? sensor?

The integration of environmental sensors may well broaden the potential of wearable devices, proving useful in health and cosmetic applications. However, being in close proximity to the heat of the skin may influence the reading of these sensors and affect accuracy in particular. To mitigate this problem, a heat-propagation model can then be applied to calculate the temperature gain of the body heat on the sensor, thus allowing for compensation.

The latest sensors are able to measure relative humidity and temperature (RH/T), light and pressure to enable devices and their users to understand their ambient condition and what is going on around them.

Personalized ambient conditions

The integration of temperature and humidity sensors into wearable devices allows measurement not only of the ambient conditions but of the user's physiological information, such as skin temperature or sweating rate. This can give a better understanding and interpretation of achieved performance (e.g. disturbed sleep in hot weather, slower running in high humidity) and is the basis for a variety of potential new applications. This information can also be used in a connected home (smart home) to automatically control the indoor climate.

If skin temperature and sweat rate is shared with a climate system, the room ambience can be optimised to personal preferences without the need of human intervention. This is particularly relevant if a user is sleeping and is not aware of unhealthy or uncomfortable conditions. In addition to increased comfort, energy is consumed only when needed, leading to cost savings.

Environmental sensing_Sensirion

Environmental temperature and humidity sensing across multiple wearables.

Tracking ambient conditions is also useful for other applications. Depending on the temperature and dryness of the environment, a wearable device could provide useful skincare tips. Our skin is highly sensitive and an understanding about exposure could be used in cosmetics to recommend the right product for the right skin and exposure.

But it's not only the beauty industry that can enhance its products to satisfy customers C the healthcare market would also benefit. People with respiratory diseases need a climate adjusted to their condition.

A bad indoor climate can increase the risk of illness C asthma, mites and mould infestation are just a few of RH/T-dependent health risk factors. By tracking the ambient condition with a wearable device, distinct patterns will emerge and abnormal or risky conditions will trigger the adjustment of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning or humidifiers.

In the near future, spectacles, watches, articles of clothing and other items will have the ability to sense light, temperature and humidity, making it possible to integrate the measurement of our environment into every facet of our lives.

This will help us to get a better understanding of our environment and the ambient condition in the space we live in. As a result, processes in daily lives could be optimised, energy consumptions minimised, money saved and comfort and health could be improved.

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