The Open Wearables Initiative (OWEAR), launched last September by Nextbridge Health, Shimmer Research and Dr. Vincent van Hees, announced that it is now “actively soliciting” open-source software and datasets from wearable sensors and other connected health technologies. The group wants to create a platform from which researchers and care providers can share digital health source codes and algorithms.
The initiative builds on the popularity of mHealth sensors and platforms designed to help care providers and researcher collect biometric information outside the hospital, clinic or doctor’s office, for use in remote patient monitoring programs and other efforts. The growing market includes smartwatches and fitness bands, smartglasses and hearing aids, sensor-embedded clothing, ingestibles, patches, tattoos, bandages and other form factors.
“Wearables, ingestible sensors and in-home monitoring technologies offer the opportunity to assess an individual’s health continuously, objectively and in real time,” the group said in a press release. “As a result, they hold the potential to revolutionize health, healthcare, and health research. However, the lack of accepted endpoints is proving to be a major impediment to the adoption of these digital measures in clinical trials. OWEAR will leverage the work of thousands of researchers from academia, pharma, and other organizations during the past decade to facilitate the development of those requisite endpoints.”
“OWEAR will serve as a community hub, indexing, distributing and benchmarking algorithms openly and transparently,” the group continued. “It will act as a neutral broker, conducting formal, objective benchmarking processes and identifying high-performing algorithms in selected domains. Its goal is to provide the industry with a searchable database of benchmarked algorithms and source code that can be freely used by everyone. This new resource will help to streamline drug development and enable digital medicine.”
The initiative has also expanded its working group to include executives from four major pharmaceutical companies, the Clinical Research Organization (CRO), Sage Bionetworks – a Seattle-based biomedical research non-profit involved in some of the earliest Apple ResearchKit studies – and the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe), a Boston-based non-profit launched in May 2019 to support “the development of digital medicine through interdisciplinary collaboration, research, teaching, and the promotion of best practices.”
The group is asking software developers and researchers to register mHealth algorithms and datasets at the OWEAR website, so that OWEAR can create an index of available resources. OWEAR will not host the software or datasets, leaving that to repositories such as GitHub, Synapse.org and the UCI Machine Learning Repository.
OWEAR officials have also announced the launch of two “Phase One” programs. One is gathering and evaluating algorithms that measure gait, while the other is collecting algorithms from devices that measure sleep.
“These projects will serve to evaluate the utility of the benchmarking program in active solicitation of high priority domains,” the group said on its website. “It will also serve to seed the algorithms and data content in the community hub.”