Researchers at UMass Amherst are touting a lightweight eye mask that can capture pulse, eye movement and sleep signals.
In a report published in the journal Matter, wearable electronics lab director Trisha Andrew and computer scientist Deepak Ganesan, among others, point out that the mask, which is capable of tracking pulse and eye movement in an everyday environment, will enable a number of sleep and psycho-social studies, while also improving the accuracy and usability of gaming and virtual reality headsets.
First author S. Zohreh Homayounfar, who will present the findings this week at the online Fall Meeting of the American Chemical Society, describes the mask as containing five silver thread-based hydrogel electrodes, called tAgTrodes, for translating ion-based biological signasl into an electric current.
The mask, called “Chesma,” is fitted with two fabric electrodes that can be sewn into pre-made garments and further miniaturized to allow for the integration of electrodes into a lightweight, foam mask for recording electro-oculography and cardiac signals. The design automatically positions the electrodes on the face with no need for custom fitting.
Chesna also includes one fabric pressure sensor, called PressION, positioned over an artery to monitor pulse as a proxy for cardiac function, linking the mask to two microcontrollers with water-repellant silver threads as connectors.
The team tested Chesna on subjects while they were chewing, talking and performing various head and eye movements. The device was reused for more than a year and, after 15 washes, there was no degradation in performance. Homayounfar said the tAgTrode “overcomes all the drawbacks of commercial wet electrodes such as aesthetic issues, discomfort and wash-stability while maintaining high and constant signal-to-noise ratios during repeated, longterm applications.”
Researchers involved expect Chesma’s capabilities to enable new studies for investigating sleep quality, sleep disorders, mental health, neurodegenerative diseases and schizophrenia, among others.