IBM prototypes AI 'fingernail sensor' for disease management

Jessica Kim Cohen - Print  | 

IBM Research debuted a wearable "fingernail sensor" — which it says may one day help clinicians monitor patient health — at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The sensor, which is still a prototype, measures how the wearer's fingernail bends and moves throughout the day. The prototype then feeds this data into algorithms that — using artificial intelligence — extrapolate how the wearer's grip strength has changed over time.

Grip strength is a key biomarker for various diseases, making it a potentially useful tool to monitor health and disease progression in various patient populations, according to an IBM Research blog post.

For example, grip strength may be a useful metric to measure the effectiveness of medication treatment for patients with Parkinson's disease, a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder characterized by motor disturbances, such as involuntary tremors and impaired movement.

Grip strength has also been associated with the degree of cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia and mortality in geriatric patients.

"The sensor could one day … enable doctors to provide more personalized treatment recommendations for a range of conditions, from Parkinson's Disease to cardiovascular disease," IBM Research said in a statement.

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