A "Fitbit" for Babies: Using wearable sensor technology to study well-being and infant development

This project is ongoing.

Our lab uses wearable sensors to study how daily activities of mothers and their infants contribute to their development and well-being. We use sensors - similar to a Fitbit or an Alexa - to access our participants' activity "in the wild" -- that is, in day-to-day, real-world settings. Where a Fitbit helps people meet fitness goals by tracking steps, we are interested in learning about development by tracking activities that we believe matter for long-term outcomes. For example, we want to track infants' mood and sleep patterns over the course of the day, or playing, talking and soothing interactions they have with their caregivers. In our current study, mothers and their infants use wearable sensors to track their activity over the course of 24-72 hours as they go about their day. Our sensors record various types of data which we will use to infer patterns of behavior. These include arousal data, motion data, and audio recordings. Interested students will have the opportunity to gain experience interacting with participants and data collection, and/or analysis of mobile-sensor datastreams. We will work in an interdisciplinary team bridging developmental science, clinical psychology, computer science, human-computer interaction, and electrical engineering.


Given the interdisciplinary nature of the project we welcome students from various disciplines including psychology, computer science, and electrical engineering. We are looking for motivated and detail-oriented undergraduate students with a strong GPA. This position may also be appropriate for a new graduate or master’s student looking to gain research experience. Students must commit 10 hours per week for three semesters in order to be considered and course credit can be offered via UGS320 or PSY357.

Project Timeline

This is an ongoing project.


Students will contribute to the project according to their skills and interests. For example, psychology students will gain valuable research experience including running studies with infants and their caregivers, collecting and coding video and audio data, helping in study design or literature reviews, and attending a weekly lab meeting. Computer science, engineering, or iSchool students can gain experience developing new algorithms for automated activity detection or writing user-friendly apps for data collection. Electrical engineering students can also gain experience working on new hardware and firmware developments relevant to the project. Opportunities to work on analyses and contribute to peer-reviewed publications are available for interested students.

Typical Time Commitment
10 hours/week
Desired Length of Commitment
1-3 semesters


The Office of Undergraduate Research recommends that you attend an info session or advising before contacting faculty members or project contacts about research opportunities. We'll cover the steps to get involved, tips for contacting faculty, funding possibilities, and options for course credit. Once you have attended an Office of Undergraduate Research info session or spoken to an advisor, you can use the "Who to contact" details for this project to get in touch with the project leader and express your interest in getting involved.

Have you tried contacting professors and need more help? Schedule an appointment for additional support.