Is it time to shut your mouth? This smart wearable will let you know

Musicians who are famous for their singing often suffer from vocal cord injury. Freddie Mercury, Julie Andrews, and Justin Timberlake, as well as contemporary giants Adele and Justin Timberlake, have all had vocal chord disorders that required surgery to correct and weeks of speaking restrictions to get their voices back to normal.

The researchers at Northwestern University have created a sensor that alerts you each time you talk loudly enough to strain your vocal chords and the tissue around them. This could prevent accidents that could permanently alter your voice and provide much-needed respite to the voice box and other tissues that are related and affect your capacity for speaking, reading, and singing. It follows news of an intelligent necklace that can aid in quitting smoking as the most recent in a line of wearable health innovations.

There’s a science to being quiet

The group, under the direction of Dr. John A. Rogers, a leading figure in the field of bioelectronics, developed a special kind of sensor that can gauge the volume and frequency of your voice when you sing or speak. To manage appropriate vocalization patterns, Rogers said it’s crucial to be aware of those factors both at a given moment and over time.

These measurements are used by the sensor assembly to calculate the strain on your vocal cords. It can also record other essential parameters like sound volume, speaking time, and the time of day.

The goal to monitor vocal stress in the real world using realistic settings rather than only in a clinical lab after the harm has already been done is at the core of the innovation. Instead of recording sound with a microphone and then analyzing it, the wearable device, which resembles a little bandage patch and communicates via a smartphone app, detects the vibrations produced by the vocal tissue.

Your smartwatch is ready for it

Once the threshold has been set, the wearable device will vibrate every time the wearer has exceed that limit. The flexible patch has its own battery and comes embedded with a bunch of motors to monitor voice activity at varied ranges. All the data is transmitted via Bluetooth to the mobile app, where users can also see a graphical breakdown of their vocal load.

The group also created a companion gadget, which resembles a wristband and has vibration motors (see the photo above). Like a typical timepiece, the bracelet vibrates to inform users whenever they reach their vocal stress threshold. Nevertheless, this is the finest part. If you already have a smartwatch, you can do without the bracelet.

The technology functions nicely with any smartwatch that has a haptic motor to produce those important vibration warnings. Privacy issues have also been taken care of because audio data recording is not required. To create a more comprehensive picture of how different types of movements affect the vocal systems and their performance, the team is now experimenting with adding extra sensors that can measure heart rate, temperature, and respiratory activity.

Quick, easy, and incredibly accurate

The team used classical vocalists and opera students to train the underlying machine learning algorithms so they don’t mix singing with speaking. The scientists used 5,000 one-second recordings from each participant to record their vocal activity patterns for a variety of situations, including singing, humming, reading, and more, in order to fine-tune the algorithms.

Recall that several artists have had operations and followed strict speaking-free regimens for weeks to aid in their rehabilitation. It will make it possible for patients and their doctors to comprehend how their voices are used and modify their vocal demands in order to lessen vocal fatigue and hasten the recovery from voice problems.

The team advises practicing 15 to 20 minutes of periodic silence spells each day because it can really help the vocal fold tissues recover from the stress. We don’t know when the wearable device will be available on store shelves as a medical-grade or commercially available tool, but until that time, they suggest that one should practice them.