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May 03, 2017 10:00 AM EDT

MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory or CSAIL has developed a new system to detect cardiac disease and other health problems - measuring how fast people walk wirelessly.

There has been a growing body of research that the speed of how people walk is also a vital sign of underlying health problems. However, it is difficult to monitor them accurately, so Professor Dina Katabi of MIT CSAIL and her team decided on measuring it wirelessly.

The device, called WiGait, can be mounted on the wall with a signal that is around one-hundredth the amount of radiation from a cell phone. It can measure the walking speed of people with up to 95 percent accuracy.

The signals coming from people's bodies are then analyzed by the WiTrack, another system that Katabi developed. The body signals range from the walking speed to specific emotions.

Aside from the speed, WiGait can measure the stride length of a person with an accuracy of 85 to 99 percent. This sign is important in detecting and understanding conditions, such as Parkinson's disease which is characterized by a reduction in size step. CSAIL's WiGait can also identify other movements, such as brushing the teeth or cleaning.

Katabi said that this device is very helpful especially among the elderly. By detecting how a person walks, doctors will be able to detect if the person has suffered an injury or is in danger of falling. It can also detect if a person needs to have some lifestyle or environment change. Preventing such accidents could reduce the number of hospitalization as well as health care costs.

The best thing about CSAIL's WiGait is it can measure health and behavior in a non-intrusive way, even without any participation from the patient, which is a big benefit to those who are lack cognitive skills.

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