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Researchers at the University of Massachusetts are developing a multimedia device called “iHeal” that aims to detect drug cravings and intervene to prevent drug use.

“iHeal” is a mobile health application that incorporates biosensors to measure physiological changes, according to Medical Xpress. A person with a history of substance abuse would wear the sensor band around their wrist or ankle. The sensor measures the electrical activity of the skin, body motion, skin temperature and heart rate. All of these are indicators of stress or arousal, the article notes. The band wirelessly transmits this information to a smartphone, which has software applications that monitor and process the data.

If the software detects an increased level of stress or arousal, it asks the person to input information about their perceived level of drug cravings, stress and current activities. The developers plan to have iHeal deliver personalized, multimedia drug prevention and intervention messages at the exact time a person needs them.

The researchers say preliminary tests of iHeal indicate there are still technical issues related to data security that need to be worked out. They also need to improve the look of the device. They note it could be a sensor band that looks and functions like a wristwatch, or a sensor that can be worn on the ankle.

Lead researcher Edward Boyer published a paper on the development of iHeal in the Journal of Medical Toxicology.


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