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Dec. 12: Carnegie Mellon's Yang Cai Develops System To Convert Security Tools Into Health-Monitoring Equipment


Chriss Swaney                        

Carnegie Mellon's Yang Cai Develops System To Convert
Security Tools Into Health-Monitoring Equipment

Yang CaiPITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Yang Cai is working with a team of researchers to develop health-monitoring systems from security tools.
"We have developed a prototype that can convert the data from a 3D microwave imaging system used for airport security to biometrics such as body mass and gait for early health diagnoses," said Cai, a senior systems scientist and director of the Ambient Intelligence Lab at Carnegie Mellon CyLab.   
Sponsored by the Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation, the dual-use security tools are designed to help cut health care costs and provide important data for health issues ranging from obesity to arthritis.
Cai and research assistants Ye Li, Stefan Kremser, Li Wan and Ping Ni use a 3D anthropology database of more than 100 men and women to cull information for correlations between 3D volume, weight, height and girth of adults. They have collected medical diagnostic tips from journals, news and Web links for building the "Ambient Diagnostics" models on a computer. The team aims to develop an affordable tool that consumers can use to monitor excess weight and other health issues involving everything from arthritic wrists and hands to a sore foot.
Because more than 123 million Americans, or two-thirds of the population, are overweight, Cai said his new monitoring equipment will help consumers keep a better record of their belt length.
"We all love Santa Claus at this time of year, but we don't necessarily want to be quite as round as that jolly old elf," Cai said.
The lab also studies how a person walks and an individual's posture from surveillance videos. "Hand gestures and a person's posture can also be early clues to a chronic ailment like Parkinson's," said Cai, who is working with physician Douglas Robertson at Jefferson Memorial Hospital to develop the new tools.
The Ambient Intelligence Lab also has developed software that scanned 3,000-year-old ancient rock art in Italy last summer.  

Pictured above is Yang Cai, director of the Ambient Intelligence Lab.