Advancements in mobile technologies have significantly enhanced the capabilities of mobile devices to serve as powerful platforms for sensing, processing, and visualization. Surges in the sensing technology and the abundance of data have enabled the use of these portable devices for real-time data analysis and decision-making in digital signal processing (DSP) applications. Most of the current efforts in DSP education focus on building tools to facilitate understanding of the mathematical principles. However, there is a disconnect between real-world data processing problems and the material presented in a DSP course. Sophisticated mobile interfaces and apps can potentially play a crucial role in providing a hands-on-experience with modern DSP applications to students. In this work, a new paradigm of DSP learning is explored by building an interactive easy-to-use health monitoring application for use in DSP courses. This is motivated by the increasing commercial interest in employing mobile phones for real-time health monitoring tasks. The idea is to exploit the computational abilities of the Android platform to build m-Health modules with sensor interfaces. In particular, appropriate sensing modalities have been identified, and a suite of software functionalities have been developed. Within the existing framework of the AJDSP app, a graphical programming environment, interfaces to on-board and external sensor hardware have also been developed to acquire and process physiological data. The set of sensor signals that can be monitored include electrocardiogram (ECG), photoplethysmogram (PPG), accelerometer signal, and galvanic skin response (GSR). The proposed m-Health modules can be used to estimate parameters such as heart rate, oxygen saturation, step count, and heart rate variability. A set of laboratory exercises have been designed to demonstrate the use of these modules in DSP courses. The app was evaluated through several workshops involving graduate and undergraduate students in signal processing majors at Arizona State University. The usefulness of the software modules in enhancing student understanding of signals, sensors and DSP systems were analyzed. Student opinions about the app and the proposed m-health modules evidenced the merits of integrating tools for mobile sensing and processing in a DSP curriculum, and familiarizing students with challenges in modern data-driven applications.
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