Scientist Create Novel Stylish Earrings That Can Monitor Body Temperature Effectively

In Education

The University of Washington researchers have developed the Thermal Earring, a wireless wearable accessory that tracks earlobe temperature, adding to the growing trend of smart rings and watches in the fitness industry.

Researchers develop earrings that can monitor body temperature

The compact smart earring, similar in size to a small paperclip, boasts an impressive 28-day battery life. It features a magnetic clip attaching a temperature sensor to the wearer’s ear, with an additional sensor hanging below to gauge room temperature.

Despite its functionality, the earring prioritizes fashion, offering customization with resin or gemstone designs without compromising quality. In a study involving six users, the earring surpassed a smartwatch in accurately detecting skin temperature at rest, demonstrating promise in detecting various physiological indicators such as stress, exercise, eating patterns, and ovulation.

The co-lead author, Qiuyue (Shirley) Xue, a UW doctoral student, said that there are misconceptions about smartwatches’ style and comfort. Xue said they explored using earrings for health tracking, and found that monitoring skin temperature on the earlobe was more accurate. However it is important to note that designing a small, long-lasting wearable like an earring posed significant engineering challenges.

Scientists overcome the challenge of extending the battery life of thermal earring

Yujia (Nancy) Liu, co-lead author, who conducted the study while pursuing her master’s degree in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Washington and is currently affiliated with the University of California San Diego noted that finding an equilibrium pauses a challenge. She explained that conventionally extending battery life entails opting for a larger battery, albeit at the expense of size and implementing wireless functionality necessitates increased energy consumption

To optimize power consumption in a small earring design, the team incorporated a Bluetooth chip, battery, two temperature sensors, and an antenna. The Bluetooth chip reduces power usage compared to pairing with a device. After reading and sending temperature data, the device enters sleep mode to conserve power.

The Thermal Earring shows promise in various tests and experiments, but further validation is needed alongside additional testing to ensure its effectiveness for different purposes.

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