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This MIT Startup Is Developing A Fitness Tracker For Your Brain


What would it be like if you could look at your watch and catch your mood forecast for the next few days? If you knew your stress levels were likely to be 40% higher tomorrow, would you make sure to go to bed early and get enough sleep? Would you plan to grab coffee with a friend who always makes you laugh early in the day?

That's the ultimate dream of Rosalind Picard, the founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Lab at the MIT Media Lab. She studies how to predict stress and anxiety, and her startup Empatica sells wearable sensors that pick up on the physiological signals that come from stress. Empatica's primary product is the Embrace smartwatch–a stylish wearable containing a medical-grade sensor and machine learning algorithms that were designed for people with epilepsy. The device uses the electrical activity on the skin to track the wearer's seizures, and last week it became the first smartwatch certified as a medical device by the FDA. In a clinical study, which compared the smart watch's effectiveness to that of three neurologists, the Embrace detected the seizures of 135 patients over 272 days 100% of the time.

But even as Empatica crosses this milestone, the startup wants to expand its focus to other neurological conditions, like autism and depression–and may one day even be able to help people without medical conditions with their day-to-day stress.

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