Saturday 29 February 2020

Motion sensor

It [L] is me right thigh, patella downwards. It is a leg-selfie [you shd try it - it's the latest thig thing] to show an ActivPal accelerometer, [can this really cost $450 each?] wrapped in a micro-condom and stuck to the flesh with a transparent Tegaderm plastic film dressing [about 60c each]. The point of the condom and dressing is to stop the gizmo getting wet. The crude stick-man is to indicate which side sthould be kept upright - a bit like the glass icon on some packing cases. Anyway anyway, the reason I have this accelerometer attached to my leg is because I am being a guinea-pig for Sean and Cian, two of our Sporty students who are studying "physical activity and sedentary behaviour" among the staff at The Institute. It is, I gather, the first such study inAs I am almost permanently welded to the sofa [blob blob blobbety blob blob] at home, I'll represent the sedentary wing of the party.

We were told to act normal - the lads would not be impressed if I made it seem like I was a really active person. The ActivPal is taking a snapshot of the motion undergone by my right thigh every 15 seconds and storing it on board over a week. At the end of that time, I will report back to the boys and they will download the data for analysis. Every 15 seconds is a good compromise between data-heavy and often enough not to miss a key event. Actually it is quite likely to miss most of my runs up the stairs - I never walk up because I don't do trudge. I often twit the graduate students who habitually use the lift to go to the research lab on the second floor - travelling up by lift has a carbon footprint [costs about 2c a go but if you use it 5 times a day, 250 days a year] that's enough to buy a round a drinks. But I give them a right bollicking if I see them coming down in the lift. Back in the pre-Institute days, my lab was on the 4th Floor, and I always used to run up the stairs . . . and then be unable to talk for 5 minutes. My jog upwards was essentially anaerobic, so I needed that amount of time to suck in enough oxygen to function. In these Covid19 end-of-days days, there are additional reasons not to travel in a lift with Drs Hack, Sputum and Coffin.

The intrusive and ubiquitous nature of the data gathered by these ActivPal devices seem to me to have GDPR issues. It will be clear how many times I get up in the night for a pee - which coincidentally also takes a little over 15 seconds to empty a mammalian bladder; and of course how restless I am in bed; and of course it should record any bouncy-bouncy. It also occurred to me as I sat at stool, that the data readers should be capable of inferring that I was doing exactly that - Motion Sensor, indeed!

A final bit of advice, triggered by the mention of Tegaderm transparent dressings: as well as your torch, shovel, tow-rope and warning triangle, every car should carry a roll of cling-film. If you encounter or participate in a road traffic accident, then cling-film is the paramedic-preferred way of staunching bleeding wounds. It a) stops or slows the flow, b) is reasonably sterile c) allows the professionals to see the damage. I hope you never have cause to thanks me.

No comments:

Post a Comment