UMass Amherst Research Team Advances Smartwatch Sensor for Opioid Detection, Application in the Works | WIVT

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) — A UMass research team has developed both a smartwatch sensor and an app for detecting opioid cravings.

UMass researchers began work on smartwatch sensors in October 2021, after receiving $1.1 million, to detect opioid cravings and provide mindful interventions to reduce opioid abuse and overdoses. The National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Health program is to fund the funded research for four years.

Over the past four months, researchers have focused on model prototyping, medical collaborations, device deployment, and building new datasets.

Here are the ongoing developments for the smartwatch sensor:

  • Prototyping a smartwatch that captures multiple heart rates
  • Capture a signal and a connected response
  • Temperature and motion data
  • Take advantage of the smartwatch
  • Generation of content and logical signals
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health detected opioid-related deaths among Massachusetts residents from January 2020 through September 2021 for a total of 1,613 deaths.

The UMass research team focuses on a downward spiral seen in those who abuse opioids. Individuals lose control of their bodies when they take too many drugs. “The opioid is an addictive drug that binds to receptors in the brain and temporarily relieves pain,” said Tauhidur Rahman, mobile sensor expert and assistant professor at Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The UMass research team expects smartwatch sensors to collect data and detect cravings in individuals. With oral intermediate opioid drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. According to Rahman, a plan is underway for the smartwatch to detect cravings in a short period of time, around 10-15 minutes, but has yet to be proven.

A smartwatch sensor will have similarities to an Apple Watch or Fitbit Watch today by detecting heart rate visibility.

The smartwatch sensor will pick up the high level signals and pass them to a smartphone app. The app will then tell the user who is using the smartwatch breathing techniques to enhance mindfulness to allow heart rate to increase after an opioid craving is detected.

Since opioids will make the heart beat irregular and slower, the increased heart rate is intended to help a person recover faster. “Visibility of heart rate will drive heart improvement, if the mechanism is not sufficient, the system would be weak,” Rahman said.

The UMass research team’s goal for the smartwatch sensor and app project is to first slowly reduce and then break opioid addictions. The app will keep track of history and help individuals discover coping mechanisms.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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