Public Release: 

'Tingle' wearable device improves position tracking accuracy utilizing thermal sensors

New study from Child Mind Institute researchers highlights potential use for diagnosis and treatment of body-focused repetitive behaviors, such as chronic hair-pulling

The Child Mind Institute

NEW YORK, NY (March 14, 2019) - In a new study published in npj Digital Medicine, a team led by Child Mind Institute researchers report that a wearable tracking device they developed achieves higher accuracy in position tracking using thermal sensors in addition to inertial measurement and proximity sensors. The wrist-worn device, called Tingle, was also able to distinguish between behaviors directed toward six different locations on the head. The paper, "Thermal Sensors Improve Wrist-worn Position Tracking," provides preliminary evidence of the device's potential use in the diagnosis and management of excoriation disorder (chronic skin-picking), nail-biting, trichotillomania (chronic hair-pulling), and other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs).

The researchers, led by Arno Klein, Ph.D., Director of Innovative Technologies, Joseph Healey Scholar, and Senior Research Scientist in the Center for the Developing Brain at the Child Mind Institute, collected data from 39 healthy adult volunteers by having them perform a series of repetitive behaviors while wearing the Tingle. The Tingle was designed by the Institute's MATTER Lab to passively collect thermal, proximity and accelerometer data.

Dr. Klein and colleagues found that the thermal sensor data improved the Tingle device's ability to accurately distinguish between a hand's position at different locations on the head, which would be useful in detecting clinically relevant BFRBs. BFRBs are related to a variety of mental and neurological illnesses, including autism, Tourette Syndrome and Parkinson's Disease.

"Body-focused repetitive behaviors can cause significant harm and distress," said Dr. Klein. "Our findings are quite promising because they indicate that the thermal sensors in devices like the Tingle have potential uses for many different types of hand movement training, in navigation of virtual environments, and in monitoring and mitigating repetitive, compulsive behaviors like BFRBs."


About the Child Mind Institute

The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Our teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care, advance the science of the developing brain, and empower parents, professionals and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most. Together with our supporters, we're helping children reach their full potential in school and in life. We share all of our resources freely and do not accept any funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Learn more at

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