We explored the feasibility of using Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacon sensors to determine when individuals with low vision (LV) use handheld magnifiers at home. Knowing the frequency and duration of magnifier use would be helpful to document increased magnifier use after successful rehabilitation training, or conversely, to know when someone has abandoned a magnifier and requires assistance. Estimote Sticker BLE beacon sensors were attached to the handles of optical handheld magnifiers and dispensed to eight LV subjects to use at home. Temperature and motion data from the BLE beacon sensors were collected every second by a custom mobile application on a nearby smartphone and transmitted to a secure database server. Subjects noted the date and start/end times of their magnifier use in a diary log. Each of the 99 diary-logged self-reports of magnifier use across subjects was associated with BLE beacon sensor recordings of motion (mean 407 instances; SD 365) and increased temperature (mean 0.20 °C per minute; SD 0.16 °C) (mean total magnitude 5.4 °C; SD 2.6 °C). Diary-logged duration of magnifier use (mean 42 min; SD 24) was significantly correlated with instances of motion (p < 0.001) and rate of temperature increase (p < 0.001) recorded by the BLE beacon sensors. The BLE beacon sensors reliably detected meaningfully increased temperature, coupled with numerous instances of motion, when magnifiers were used for typical reading tasks at home by people with LV.
Keywords: Bluetooth low energy beacon sensors; low vision; magnifier; vision rehabilitation; visual impairment.