Experience: Barriers and Opportunities of Wearables for Eating Research


Wearable devices have long held the potential to provide real-time objective measures of behavior. However, due to challenges in real-world deployment, these systems are rarely tested rigorously in free-living settings. To reduce this challenge for future researchers, in this paper, we describe our experience developing several generations of a multi-sensor, neck-worn eating-detection system that has been tested with 130 participants across multiple studies in both laboratory and free-living settings. We describe the challenges faced in the development and deployment of the system by (1) presenting example deployment details captured either by the sensing system or the ground truth collector and (2) using structured interviews and surveys with developers and stakeholders of the system, collecting qualitative data on their experience. We performed thematic analysis and provided detailed lessons learned explaining factors that impact the experience of building and deploying such a wearable in a free-living setting, reducing challenges for future researchers. We believe that our experience will help future researchers develop successful mobile health (mHealth) systems that translate into reliable free-living deployments.

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