The importance of physiological data variability in wearable devices for digital health applications
This paper aims at characterizing the variability of physiological data collected through a wearable device (Empatica E4), given that both intra- and inter-subject variability play a pivotal role in digital health applications, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques have become popular. Inter-beat intervals (IBIs), ElectroDermal Activity (EDA) and Skin Temperature (SKT) signals have been considered and variability has been evaluated in terms of general statistics (mean and standard deviation) and coefficient of variation. Results show that both intra- and inter-subject variability values are significant, especially when considering those parameters describing how the signals vary over time. Moreover, EDA seems to be the signal characterized by the highest variability, followed by IBIs, contrary to SKT that results more stable.
This variability could affect AI algorithms in classifying signals according to particular discriminants (e.g. emotions, daily activities, etc.), taking into account the dual role of variability: hindering a net distinction between classes, but also making algorithms more robust for deep learning purposes thanks to the consideration of a wide test population. Indeed, it is worthy to note that variability plays a fundamental role in the whole measurement chain, characterizing data reliability and impacting on the final results accuracy and consequently on decision-making processes.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).