NASA’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) has partnered with Empatica to develop EmbracePlus, a wearable monitor designed to track the health of astronauts on the first manned mission to Mars.

EmbracePlus is designed to be a space-ready device, suitable for health monitoring during deep space missions. The device is designed to operate continuously and accurately under the harsh environments of outer space, even if the wearer suffers a serious health event such as seizure or stroke.

EmbracePlus supports longitudinal diagnostics and is intended to give astronauts actionable insights into their health in outer space without the need to use invasive medical instruments.

The device uses LED and photodiode configuration to detect information about heart rate, and custom electrodermal activity sensing to monitor continuous changes in autonomic stress.

EmbracePlus processes this information through custom artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to support the wearer, alongside allowing customisable data sampling. Its e-ink face gives users secure access to a portal with this raw data, which contains tools to ease the management of large studies. The data can be wirelessly streamed using a Bluetooth connection.

The device is also waterproof and able to charge on the wrist, meaning it never needs to be removed unless the wearer wants to take it off.

According to Empatica, TRISH chose to work with the company due to its success in creating the first smart watch used to detect seizures, the Embrace2. Embrace2 has received FDA clearance for both its hardware sensors and its software alerting algorithm.

The EmbracePlus device will ship to its first clients in summer 2020. Empatica’s E4 bands, which are used by researchers in clinical studies, will be upgraded to EmbracePlus for free if they are purchased before the end of 2019.

Empatica is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-off, with offices in Boston, Milan and South Korea.