Undergrads Develop Wearable Tech and App to Study Impact of Light on Circadian Rhythms

Achievement date: 

Undergraduate researchers at the NSF-funded Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications ERC (LESA), headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic University, designed and built a smart wearable prototype and smartphone app to use big data to study the impact of light on human circadian rhythms. A second prototype is under development that expands its biosensing capability, reduces cost, and increases the battery life.


The development of networked smart devices and techniques to analyze massive data sets creates opportunities to improve studies of the relationship between lighting and circadian function. New methods of analyzing big data can be used to extract information about the relationships between light and human circadian performance on an unprecedented scale.


application. In a version demonstrated at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, the spectrometer measured the wavelength, intensity, timing, and duration of the light exposure. The biometric sensor measured the skin temperature at the temple to estimate core body temperature, which mirrors human circadian rhythm.


The wearable device fed data to proprietary algorithms on a smartphone and uploaded it to a remote server for further processing and data analysis. Updates and lighting guidance were pushed to the wearer through the app installed on the wearer’s smartphone.