A wearable sensor for unobtrusive, long-term assessment of electrodermal activity

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2010 May;57(5):1243-52. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2009.2038487. Epub 2010 Feb 17.


Electrodermal activity (EDA) is a sensitive index of sympathetic nervous system activity. Due to the lack of sensors that can be worn comfortably during normal daily activity and over extensive periods of time, research in this area is limited to laboratory settings or artificial clinical environments. We developed a novel, unobtrusive, nonstigmatizing, wrist-worn integrated sensor, and present, for the very first time, a demonstration of long-term, continuous assessment of EDA outside of a laboratory setting. We evaluated the performance of our device against a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved system for the measurement of EDA during physical, cognitive, as well as emotional stressors at both palmar and distal forearm sites, and found high correlations across all the tests. We also evaluated the choice of electrode material by comparing conductive fabric with Ag/AgCl electrodes and discuss the limitations found. An important result presented in this paper is evidence that the distal forearm is a viable alternative to the traditional palmar sites for EDA measurements. Our device offers the unprecedented ability to perform comfortable, long-term, and in situ assessment of EDA. This paper opens up opportunities for future investigations that were previously not feasible, and could have far-reaching implications for diagnosis and understanding of psychological or neurological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clothing*
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Telemetry / instrumentation*
  • Transducers*