IBM research has announced via a press release that the company created a fingernail sensor prototype that is capable of monitoring human health.
The device is wearable and wireless and it can measure the ways a person’s fingernail bends and moves, which is a good indicator of grip strength.
Initially, the project started as a way to keep people with Parkinson’s disease under supervision as they began taking their medication and one method of checking for progression of the disease was to attach sensors that are skin-based and that can capture motion, muscle and nerve cells health and even changes in sweat gland activity, which is a good indicator of a person’s emotional state.
But, because older patients were more susceptible to infection because of skin-based sensors, the fingernail sensor came into play.
This sensor is capable of sensing health changes based solely on how the fingernails bend through the day and then it uses AI to analyze the daily readings.
The sensor has strain gauges that attach to the fingernail, alongside a small computer that collects accelerometer data, samples the strain values and communicates all of it to a smart watch. This smart watch uses machine learning so it can rate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
In the future, IBM hopes to also use the sensor to develop a device that would help quadriplegics communicate.