I-X celebrates launch of new seminar series with guest speaker Cecilia Mascolo


Prof Cecilia Mascolo

Prof Cecilia Mascolo presents at the launch of the new I-X monthly seminar series.

I-X were delighted to welcome Cecilia Mascolo, Professor of Mobile Systems at Cambridge University, to the launch of the I-X seminar series, presenting on the challenges of wearable computing and sensing for health.

The new series invites leaders in artificial intelligence from industry and academia to discuss the latest advancements in AI theory and applications. Bringing together researchers working on the fundamental aspects of AI and those using it in applications such as health, materials sciences, biology, and security, the seminars aim to spark collaborations around key developments in the field.  

Creating a multidisciplinary environment has always been key to the vision of I-X and events such as these underpin new collaborations and partnerships. Professor Nick Jones I-X Co-Director

Hosted at I-X’s new event space on the fifth floor of the Translation & Innovation Hub (I-HUB) at Imperial’s White City Campus, Prof Mascolo opened the talk by discussing the challenges and possibilities of wearable technologies: “Many of us have wearable devices which are sensing our behaviour and health, from smart watches to fitness trackers, but the reality I want to discuss today is that we really are just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible in all aspects of these devices.

From the data we collect to how we use these systems, it is clear that we have not yet transformed our health with these devices.”

“I believe that the data is starting to provide us with a view about ourselves that we didn’t have before. It’s not perfect - but if treated with respect, I think it can offer us a longitudinal perspective that we have never had and that can be incredibly insightful. The question is: how do we analyse the data to tell us things we didn’t know before. This data is more noisy, more varied and it is different, but it can still be revealing nonetheless.”

Longitudinal data from wearable tech

Emphasising the significance of longitudinal data from wearable devices, Prof Mascolo said: “There is a lot of discussion about the error of the data that we collect from these consumer devices but this is not always helpful. Monitoring sleep is a clear example of this – the gold standard data collection for this is polysomnography (sleep study) where a person is monitored overnight in a lab to track heart rate and brain activity. As a consequence, people compare consumer devices with polysomnography and highlight that wearable tech is not up to this standard.

Yet, I don’t quite buy this. What we start to have with these devices is a longitudinal scale and scalability scale that Polysomnography, (or sleep studies), cannot give you. In other words, I can examine your data from a very imprecise device for a year and, although it wont be completely exact, if we achieve the correct techniques to analyse it, it could suggest more about your sleep patterns than one night of your Polysomnography. I believe the longitudinal data from these devices could be very useful if the data is analysed correctly.”

Cecilia Mascolo

As the lecture drew to a close, I-X Faculty member, Prof Nicole Salomons, thanked the audience and Prof Mascolo: “It has been brilliant to have Prof Mascolo as our first speaker for the launch of our new I-X seminar series and to share such an engaging and insightful first talk. The hope of our I-X seminar series is to really make connections between different fields of research and spark interdistributary collaborations and it has been fantastic to see that happening today.”

Prof Nick Jones, Co-Director of I-X, said: “Creating a multidisciplinary environment has always been key to the vision of I-X and events such as these underpin new collaborations and partnerships. This year we have launched our new industry club and a new fellowship scheme in AI in Science."

The next instalment of the I-X seminar series will be taking place on the 10 May with Prof Fahim Kawsar presenting on ‘Can Earables Revolutionise Continuous Vital Sign Monitoring?’


Elinor Pegler

Elinor Pegler
Faculty of Engineering

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