AUG 05, 2018 1:52 AM PDT

Wearable Technology To Help Smokers Quit

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Technology, more specifically, a smart-phone app may now help people quit smoking thanks to researchers at Case Western Reserve University who have developed an automatic alert system using wearable sensor technology. First limited to android-based operating systems, the app automatically texts 20- to 120-second video messages to smokers when sensors detect specific arm and body motions associated with smoking. To stop smoking addiction, there is plenty of products such as nicotine gum. However, to help people stop smoking wearable technology may be the most popular option. "The field of tobacco control has really adopted mobile technologies because many people won't come in for therapy," said Webb Hooper, who has been working on interventions for nearly two decades. "Tobacco is the toughest of all addictions to overcome and cigarettes are one of the easiest drugs to become addicted to -- all it takes is three (cigarettes) for some people," Webb Hooper said. "And, neurologically, it's harder to quit because we have more nicotine receptors in the brain. That's why I'm so excited about this intervention."

Developed by Case Western Reserve researchers, the mobile-alert system was tested for one year by a team of engineers, computer scientists, a high school intern, and a clinical psychologist. "We've been able to differentiate between a single motion, which could be confused with eating or drinking, and a sequence of motions more clearly linked to the act of smoking a cigarette," said Ming-Chun Huang, an assistant electrical engineering and computer science professor who led the technical aspect of the study. The research study published in Smart Health detailed the new alert system and reported on early findings on a group of 10 users. Previous studies have relied on smokers self-reporting how often they smoked but, the newly developed system will accurately track the smoking activity of users based on the sensors.

“We were interested in translating one of our programs into a video-based mobile application, but the motion sensors made this even more amazing," said Webb Hooper, who has extended the study to another 120 smokers with half using the program and a control group using a standard text messaging program without sensors or video messaging.

Source: Case Western Reserve University, Smart Health, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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