Biometric sensors used to be something associated in a lab, with wiry cords ad infinitum and numerous pads taped to a person’s body. Yet today, a biometric sensor may be snug on your wrist or stuffed in your pocket. You may very well be reading this article from a biometric sensor.
With today’s glorious technological age, anything, from phones to watches, can be a biometric sensor. And a biometric sensor can do anything, whether it’s pushing science to new heights or creating exciting artistic expressions. With the new EmotiBit wearable sensor, capturing over 16 different biometric signals, anything is possible.
A single sensor for numerous uses
Connected Future Labs, an engineering and consulting company, just launched the EmotiBit, which is a wearable biometric sensor a little larger than a typical smartwatch with countless applications. According to their press release, its “data can derive emotional arousal, heart rate, respiration, gestures, movements, body temperature, and other metrics to create a physiological and emotional data portrait of the wearer.”
While the device isn’t necessarily attractive with its skinless design, it is absolutely packed with sensors upon sensors. It has a PPG which analyzes heart rate and oxygen flow, a thermistor that scans for body temperature, humidity, accelerometers, and even a built-in gyroscope, all without the painful hassle of cords and pads. In fact, it can store data directly on a built-in SD card or be streamed wirelessly to another device for examination and processing. They also guarantee that collecting and transferring data from the wearable device is designed to “protect user data and enables scientific peer-review without hidden proprietary data manipulation.”
Another way, perhaps the most unique one, that the EmotiBit enables users is through its open-source design. We reached out to the founder of EmotiBit, Dr. Sean Montgomery, and he explained that “the summary is that open source and access to raw data allow you to ask your own questions about your biometric data. Because consumer-grade devices often only give the user access to highly digested summary statistics derived from massaging and manipulating the data, as a user, it can be difficult to get a full portrait of your own data.”
As opposed to consumer-grade devices such as the Fitbit or Apple Watch, or even research-grade devices such as the BioPAC that are used by medical and scientific professionals, the EmotiBit is highly customizable and flexible. This can be paired with Adafruit feather and Arduino, systems which allow for customization of connected devices. The advantage here is that data from its sensors don’t go through an endless array of processors and compressors before reaching the user. This opens up countless opportunities and ways for its data to be used.
For instance, users can “easily pair EmotiBit with an LED matrix to display your heartbeats on your sleeve, add an audio generator to sonify emotional reactions, or (explore) hundreds of other possible configurations.” Any kind of data provided with the help of EmotiBit can be helpful in multiple ways such as “novel research, create a new-media art performance, better understand your own wellness, or teach your students about biometric signals, EmotiBit gives the user 100% data ownership to discover new ways of interacting with signals from the body.”
Unlocking human potential
Montgomery seems proud of his work, something which began back in 2018, and while it is still a work in progress, it is also ever-changing and ever-improving. “I waited over a decade for someone to make EmotiBit. I just wanted an easy way to start streaming high-quality biometric signals from the body,” he said. “I believe biometric sensing will help unlock human potential. Beyond the immediate benefits for health and wellness, tools like EmotiBit may help (people) understand human emotions, empathy, and even augment our cognition.”
Being used today in a diverse selection of fields ranging from neuroscience research at New York University or risk-taking research at the University of Quebec to an “immersive” artistic installation at the New York Electronic Arts Festival, this EmotiBit seems to be in a category of itself. Yes, it’s a biometric sensor, but it’s so much more. As of this writing, the EmotiBit has been successfully backed on Kickstarter, with three days to spare. For those who are interested, the device is available starting at a surprisingly modest price of $199.
YouTube: EmotiBit is LIVE on Kickstarter!
Photo credit: The featured images are owned by EmotiBit and have been provided for press usage.