Thermal Earring

A tiny wireless earring for continuous temperature sensing

We introduce the Thermal Earring, a tiny wireless earring device with a battery life of a month, that offers continuous temperature monitoring from the earlobe.

Body temperature is an important vital sign which can indicate fever and is known to be correlated with activities such as eating, exercise and stress. However, continuous temperature monitoring poses a significant challenge.

We present Thermal Earring, a first-of-its-kind smart earring that enables a reliable wearable solution for continuous temperature monitoring. The Thermal Earring takes advantage of the unique position of earrings in proximity to the head, a region with tight coupling to the body unlike watches and other wearables which are more loosely worn on extremities. We develop a hardware prototype in the form factor of real earrings measuring a maximum width of 11.3 mm and a length of 31 mm, weighing 335 mg, and consuming only 14.4 uW which enables a battery life of 28 days in real-world tests. We demonstrate this form factor is small and light enough to integrate into real jewelry with fashionable designs. Additionally, we develop a dual sensor design to differentiate human body temperature change from environmental changes. We explore the use of this novel sensing platform and find its measured earlobe temperatures are stable within ±0.32 °C during periods of rest. Using these promising results, we investigate its capability of detecting fever by gathering data from 5 febrile patients and 20 healthy participants. Further, we perform the first-ever investigation of the relationship between earlobe temperature and a variety of daily activities, demonstrating earlobe temperature changes related to eating and exercise. We also find the surprising result that acute stressors such as public speaking and exams cause measurable changes in earlobe temperature. We perform multi-day in-the-wild experiments and confirm the temperature changes caused by these daily activities in natural daily scenarios. This initial exploration seeks to provide a foundation for future automatic activity detection and earring-based wearables.

The longitudinal sensing capability of the Thermal Earring enables us to conduct a unique investigation into the relationship between earlobe temperature and various daily activities, demonstrating that earlobe temperature changes are related to eating, exercise, and periods of acute stress.
The smart earring can be personalized with fashion designs made of resin — such as the flower shown here — or with a gemstone, without negatively affecting its accuracy.

Please feel free to reach out for research collaboration or commercilization.

Paper: Link

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