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A better way to track your every move
Date:11/4/2013

CHICAGO --- Physical activity tracking apps on smartphones are a potentially important tool for doctors who want to collect data and create treatment or intervention plans to improve the health of patients who struggle with activity and movement -- such as those with Parkinson's disease.

A new Northwestern Medicine study has found a way to make these apps more accurate -- no matter where patients carry their phones. The study was recently published online in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

Previous studies of activity tracker apps have found that patients generally carry their phone in a pocket, on a belt or in a purse or bag throughout the day and are not aware that where they carry their phone can impact how well the tracker works.

Designed with fashion and comfort in mind, a new algorithm -- developed by an interdisciplinary team at Northwestern -- can be used with a physical activity app to predict the location of a phone throughout the day with near perfect accuracy.

"While it remains true that smartphone activity trackers are the most accurate when the phone is placed in the pocket or on a belt, with this algorithm we can provide an estimate of error associated with other locations where the phone is carried," said Konrad Kording, principal investigator of the study.

Kording is an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and of physiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a research scientist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

This finding is important because studies have shown that in everyday life people carry their phones in different ways. It is unrealistic to expect all patients with activity tracker apps to always carry their phone in their pocket or on a belt, Kording said.

"Most women carry their phones in a purse," said Stephen Antos, first author of the study. "Some people carry theirs on their belt or in their hand
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Contact: Erin White
ewhite@northwestern.edu
847-491-4888
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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