In 2015, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering released a funding opportunity for research and development relating to sensors that could monitor environmental exposure and physiological activity to gain new insights into pediatric asthma. This grant is known as the Pediatric Research using Integrated Sensor Monitoring Systems (PRISMS): Sensor Development Projects for Asthma (U01) and was awarded to Mount Sinai’s Center for Digital Health in collaboration with Arizona State University and the University of Southern California.

In order to accomplish the grant’s aim, the Center for Digital Health and partners focused on creating  wearable sensors that monitored exposure to environmental factors which possibly affect asthma and on connecting this sensor to a data management system so that epidemiologists and data scientists could easily analyze the information. The system created will ideally expand our understanding of pollution’s impact on pediatric asthma. Currently, there is an ongoing pilot study being conducted by Arizona State University to validate the system.

About the App and Device

The wearable sensor devices, developed by researchers at Arizona State University, senses and measures potential asthma triggers such as particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and formaldehyde, in addition to temperature and humidity. The devices were built in such a way that it can allow inclusion of additional triggers in the future. In order to ensure test subjects wear the sensors as directed, the device is equipped with an accelerometer.

The Center for Digital Health was responsible for building a corresponding iOS application to communicate with and collect data from the sensor device and for pairing the device, app, and database. The PRISMS mobile application was based upon the Center for Digital Health’s prior Asthma Health Application. The mobile application gathers data from the sensor devices via blue-tooth and communicates with the Sage Bridge backend system to store the data and provide to researchers a continuous source of data on users’ environmental exposures.

The devices and application were provided to a closed-set of participants for a pilot study.