New research shows that tracking walking speed could actually be helpful for monitoring health, especially for older individuals. A new research project from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) hopes to help by tracking walking speed without requiring a wearable or constant camera recording.
The system, called “WiGait,” is a wall-mounted device that’s roughly the size of a picture frame. It works by sending out low amounts of radiation (roughly 1/100th of that of a smartphone, before you get too concerned), and measures how it reflects off the subject. WiGait can measure walking speed with 95 to 99 percent accuracy, and stride length of 85 to 99 percent accuracy. The research team claims that the system is more accurate than using a wearable fitness tracker to measure walking speed (which is only calculated roughly off of steps taken over time), or more traditional measures by using a stopwatch to manually measure. WiGait is also less intrusive than say, using a camera for similar effects.
As to why you’d want to track someone’s walking speed, the team hopes the system could be used to help determine if say, an elderly person has fallen and needs aid. The team also intends to use the system alongside physicians to help monitor walking of patients with conditions like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or multiple sclerosis to track the progression of the disease and improve treatment.
For more information, check out the full research paper here.