Sensor technology drawn from animal research could be used to track human health, researchers suggest.

Unexpected findings from sensors implanted in animals, a practice known as biologging, should cause a seismic shift in how wearable sensors are used to promote health in humans.

That’s the conclusion of a team of scientists led by Michael Strano, Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT, in a perspective piece published in the journal ACS Sensors.

The group says animals have been fitted with sensors to measure just one or two behaviours, yet scientists have gained dramatic and unforeseen insights into a wealth of other habits.

A case in point is the jaw sensor. To the uninitiated this tiny device, which has been implanted in penguins, sea lions and dolphins, seems only able to know if the jaw is moving up or down.

But by drilling down on the size and frequency of signals, scientists have worked out when the animal is chewing, swallowing or capturing prey. They also know how much and what type of food it eats and how long it feeds.

Which is fine and dandy if you’re interested in the gustatory habits of, say, the Northern rockhopper penguin.

But the scientists argue it is also of critical importance for the emerging science of wearable health monitoring, not least because most of us are already sensor-enabled.

Read the full story in Cosmos magazine here