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Coming Soon in the NIDA Clinical Trials Network: A Study on Using Smartwatches to Detect Cocaine Use

January 6, 2016
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A new study in the CTN, CTN-0073-Ot (Towards Detecting Cocaine Use Using Smartwatches in the NIDA Clinical Trials Network), will be investigating methods for detecting cocaine use from heart rate data captured by smartwatches, with the aim to deploy such an approach widely in the NIDA Clinical Trials Network (CTN) and beyond.

This method will enable researchers to automatically detect cocaine use and the precise timing of such use, as well as complement self-report methods that often suffer from inaccuracy in reporting cocaine use in the field setting.

Detection of cocaine use via smartwatches will build upon, and extend, the study team’s recently developed methods to identify cocaine use from interbeat interval heart rate data obtained from electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors and physical activity from accelerometer data.

Three specific aims will be pursued:

  • Develop a smartwatch device that can reliably detect interbeat interval and can last the entire day on a single charge of battery with continuous sensor data collection.
  • Conduct a user study to determine the feasibility of using smartwatches to collect reliable interbeat interval and physical activity data in the natural field setting. This study will provide the data necessary to determine under what conditions high quality data can be obtained from smartwatches, identify common failure scenarios, and understand wearability/usage patterns.
  • Adapt the computational model for detecting cocaine use from interbeat interval, so it can be applied to the interbeat and physical activity data obtained from smartwatches, as well as assess the degree of specificity of the model relative to other stimulant use.

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