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Development Of A Mobile Application For The Auracle Wearable System For Eating Behavior Monitoring Studies

Funding Source

National Institute on Drug Abuse – Center for Technology and Behavioral Health Pilot Core

Project Period

September 2018 - September 2019

Principal Investigator

Sougata Sen, PhD; David Kotz, PhD

Other Project Staff

Shengjie Bi, MS (Collaborator); Lorie Loeb (Collaborator); Lisa Marsch, PhD (Advisor)

Project Summary

Over the last few years there has been tremendous growth in the development and adoption of sensor-rich smart wearable devices. Many of these devices have the capability of automatically and unobtrusively monitoring various daily life activities of individuals in free living conditions. Monitoring an individual’s eating activity is an example activity that has been monitored using various wearable devices and sensing modalities. In this project, we will use one such smart wearable device – the Auracle, to monitor the eating activity. The Auracle device has been jointly developed by researchers from Dartmouth College and Clemson University. It uses sensor data from a built-in microphone to determine the chewing activity and in-turn infers the eating activity.

With the possibility of automatically and accurately monitoring the eating activity, there is now a growing interest in using the information gathered from these automatic monitoring systems to provide behavioral interventions. In this project, we will augment the Auracle with a smartphone app. The app will be used to (a) provide real time notifications to the user either visually or through audio feedback, (b) visually present the overall eating analytics to the user at the end of the day, (c) collect user’s response when an input is requested, and (d) collect sensor data from the smartphone and derive contextual information. With these new capabilities, as one of its use cases, we plan to understand the effect of providing feedback to individuals with binge-eating disorder. Based on the user’s response to the feedback, we want to understand the effect of (a) various types of feedback on eating habits and (b) the contextual setting on the receptivity of the feedback.

Th goal of this project is thus to: (1) develop an application that can be integrated with Auracle to collect user input and to provide feedback to the user, and (2) use the Auracle and the developed app to understand the impact of notifications on individuals with binge-eating disorder in various contextual settings. Our longer-term vision is to make this application available to researchers who are interested in using Auracle for monitoring eating activity and understanding the impact of different types of feedback on eating behavior. Researchers can use this app to test hypotheses related to eating behavior.