Scientists Create Comfortable Wearable Device that Collects Health Data

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. barely / ˈbɛər li / (adv) – not quite

    He was so weak that he barely lifted the weight at the gym.

  2. go downhill / goʊ ˈdaʊnˈhɪl / (idiom) – to become worse as time goes by

    I’m thinking about selling my computer before its quality goes downhill.

  3. bulky / ˈbʌl ki / (adj) – big and hard to carry

    The phone is too bulky. It doesn’t fit in my pocket.

  4. multifunctional / mʌl ti ˈfʌŋk ʃə nl / (adj) – having many uses

    She advised me to bring multifunctional clothes on my trip so that I would pack lightly.

  5. functionality / ˌfʌŋk ʃə ˈnæl ɪ ti / (n) – a set of tasks that something can perform

    Think about the functionalities of a camera before you buy one.


Read the text below.

Scientists have created a barely noticeable wearable device that is human-machine interface (HMI).

HMI devices are capable of facilitating communication between humans and machines. When worn by a person, these devices automatically scan for health information and enable machines to gather and store data.

The new HMI device, invented by scientists at the University of Houston, is more comfortable to wear than existing ones. Lead scientist Cunjian Yu explained that the device is very thin and flexible, so the wearer can feel free to move naturally as if the device were not there. One patch is stuck to the skin-like tape, while another is attached to a robot that can give feedback.

Compared to the performance of this device, the efficiency of other HMIs goes downhill after some use. Existing ones are also bulky and cannot do several functions at once. The new HMI device, on the other hand, is multifunctional—it can collect and store different health information, monitor physical condition, and detect diseases. This means that the new HMI device can be used to determine a patient’s health condition just by a handshake.

Aside from those, the scientists said that the device can be used as artificial skin on robots. When worn, the robot can collect information in places dangerous to humans and immediately relay information.

Yu and his colleagues developed the HMI device with the aim of improving the form and functionalities of existing ones. Since the device is relatively easy and cheap to make, the scientists said that the new invention might make it easier for others to develop low-cost, high-quality, and comfortable-to-wear HMI devices.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think this HMI device can be useful to you? Why or why not?
• Do you think this device can be used negatively (e.g. crimes, invasion of privacy)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What one big device would you like to turn into something smaller? Why?
• If you could create one device that can perform multiple functions, what would it be? Describe it.