We Are HABits
Lab

Where Preventive Medicine
Meets Computer Science

we design, build and analyze end-to-end mhealth
systems, while focusing on processing its data to help
answer health-related questions.

Nabil Alshurafa

Ph.D., Director of HABits Lab
Northwestern University

Our lab is at the intersection of computer science and preventive medicine. Through analysis of continuous streams of data provided by smartphones and wearable sensors, we use signal processing intelligence and machine learning to understand a person’s moment-to-moment behavior, psychological states, and environmental context in which the behavior occurs. We design, build, and analyze end-to-end mobile health (mHealth) systems, while focusing on processing its data to help answer health-related questions.

It is the humanity within us and the desire to improve quality of life and healthcare costs that guide our solutions to the persisting health problems of our time through computer science and behavior science based research in passive sensing data analytics. Our goal is to advance our ability to understand, detect, predict, and ultimately prevent problematic health habits. We are the Health Aware Bits (HABits) Lab!

Understand

• Human Computer Interaction

• Focus Groups/Interviews and Surveys

Sense

• mHealth Sensor Systems

• Passive Sensing

Detect

• Segmentation

• Feature Extraction

• Low Level Machine Learning

Predict

• High Level Machine Learning

• Statistical Analysis

• Behavior Models

Prevent

• Behaviorist

• Interventionist

• Medical Expert

Recent News

Nov 1
2022
Soroush and Rawan's paper got accepted at ACM IMWUT 2022

SmokeMon: Unobtrusive Extraction of Smoking Topography Using Wearable Energy-Efficient Thermal

Sep 28
2022
Soroush's paper got accepted at IEEE BHI-BSN 2022

SmartAct: Energy Efficient and Real-Time Hand-to-Mouth Gesture Detection Using Wearable RGB-T

Aug 2
2022
Boyang's paper got accepted at JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2022

Predicting the Next-Day Perceived and Physiological Stress of Pregnant Women by Using Machine Learning and Explainability: Algorithm Development and Validation

Aug 1
2021
Dr. Alshurafa receives NIH R01 Award from NIDDK

EAT: A Reliable Eating Assessment Technology for Free-living Individuals.

Apr 1
2021
Dr. Alshurafa receives NIH R03 Award from NIDDK

WildCam: A Privacy Conscious Wearable Eating Detection Camera People will Actually Wear in the Wil

Oct 7
2020
Ubicomp Best Poster Award (Won By Landslide) for our paper VibroScale

VibroScale: Turning your smartphone into a weighing scale

Oct 6
2020
Dr. Alshurafa receives NIH R21 Award from NIBIB

BehaviorSight: Privacy enhancing wearable system to detect health risk behaviors in real-time

Oct 5
2020
Ubicomp Best Presentation Award (Runner-Up) for our paper NeckSense

NeckSense: A Multi-Sensor Necklace for Detecting Eating Activities in Free-Living Conditions

213

Undergraduates, graduates, and Postdocs trained in mHealth.

$18M

In NIH, NSF, and Foundation funding.

655

People enrolled and participated in our studies to advance wearable technology and understand human behavior.

Grants

Software & Projects

Publications

09/29/2022

SmartAct: Energy Efficient and Real-Time Hand-to-Mouth Gesture Detection Using Wearable RGB-T

09/29/2022

Impacts of Image Obfuscation on Fine-grained Activity Recognition in Egocentric Video

09/29/2022

Detecting Screen Presence with Activity-Oriented RGB Camera in Egocentric Videos

09/07/2022

Lability of prenatal stress during the COVID19 pandemic links to negative affect in infancy

08/02/2022

Predicting the Next-Day Perceived and Physiological Stress of Pregnant Women by Using Machine Learning and Explainability: Algorithm Development and Validation

05/06/2022

ActiveSense: A Novel Active Learning Framework for Human Activity Recognition

03/21/2022

ActiSight: Wearer Foreground Extraction using a Practical RGB-Thermal Wearable

Meet The Team

We’re are a friendly , forward thinking collective, an approachable team with a can-do attitude. Our curiosity and breadth of experience means we can turn our minds to new challenges, combining the need for functionality with a desire for aesthetic value.

Researchers

Mahdi Pedram

Ph.D., Lab Manager

Tas Hussain

Medicine Physician

Principal Investigator

Nabil Alshurafa

Ph.D., Director of HABits Lab

Ph.D. Students

Soroush Shahi

Ph.D Student

Glenn Fernandes

Ph.D Student

Boyang Wei

Ph.D Student

Farzad Shahabi

Ph.D Student

Saki Amagai

Ph.D Student

Research Staff

Chris Romano

Research Study Coordinator

Jeb Sumeracki

Software Engineer

Bonnie Nolan

Research Study Assistant

Masters & Undergrads

Edward Chen

Undergrad

Helen Zhu

Undergrad

Collaborators

Bonnie J Spring

Director, Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM) - Center for Behavior and Health. Professor in Preventive Medicine-Behavioral Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Weinberg College of Art

Aggelos Katsaggelos

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northwestern University, Joseph Cummings Professor, McCormick School of Engineering

Angela Pfammatter

Senior Methodologist and Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Tennessee

June Robinson

Research Professor of Dermatology

Josiah Hester

Associate Professor of Interactive Computing and Computer Science, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, Director of Ka MoaMoa Lab

Judith Moscowitz

Professor of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University, Social Psychologist

Lauren Wakschlag

Vice Chair for Scientific & Faculty Development, Department of Medical Social Sciences Director, Institute for Innovations in Developmental Sciences Professor of Medical Social Sciences,

What They're Saying

It is the humanity within us and the desire to improve quality of life and healthcare costs that guide our solutions to the persisting health problems of our time through computer science and behavior science based research in passive sensing data analytics; helping us advance our ability to understand, detect, predict, and ultimately prevent problematic health habits. We are the Health Aware Bits (HABits) Lab.

Frequently Asked
Questions

We design, build and analyze end-to-end mHealth systems, while focusing on processing its data to help answer health-related questions. We focus on signal processing and machine learning techniques to process time-series data generated from passive sensors. To advance existing sensing techniques, a part of our lab focuses on the design of embedded systems.

People in HABits Lab have diverse backgrounds including Computer Science, Statistics, Electrical Engineering, etc. We conduct interdisciplinary researches in HCI, design, AI, machine learning, behavior science and computational medicine.

The ideal students are those who thrive at the intersections of disciplines, self-motivated, passionate about researches. Qualifications:
  1. Passion for solving health problems and working with passive sensors. You’re always thinking about how to use passive sensing to mitigate existing health and behavioral problems.
  2. Passion for programming. This drive keeps your gears turning late at night, and you find yourself wanting to stop talking with friends to come back and work in the lab. You keep tackling that bug or memory leak in your code to make sure you finish your project on time.
  3. Strong work-ethic that gets things done. You take responsibility for your project/research.
  4. Respectful of others for our time together. You always come to check-in meetings prepared with questions, and having documented everything you’ve worked on.
  5. Habit of reading and writing continually. As a researcher you love reading new papers, and recording and sharing your own findings. You’re always staying up to speed on the latest in passive sensing research.

We are looking for a passionate Software Engineer to design, develop and install software solutions. The role will be to facilitate software design and deployment for a research lab bridging the fields of computer science and healthcare. Qualifications:
  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or related field.
  2. Proficiency in, at least, one modern programming language such as Java, C++, or C# including object-oriented design.
  3. Computer Science fundamentals in object-oriented design, data structures and algorithm design.
  4. Experience in managing large datasets on server, cloud and hard drive .
  5. Experience in designing, developing and deploying cloud technology solution.
  6. Experience in software development and full product life-cycles.
  7. Strong sense of ownership, urgency, and drive.

We are looking for a skilled Hardware Engineer to facilitate lab device hardware design and implementation for a research lab bridging the fields of computer science and healthcare. Qualifications:
  1. Experience working with and debugging common communication & debug protocols (JTAG, SWD, SPI, UART, I2C, etc.).
  2. Experience working with BLE interface is a must.
  3. Proficiency in software programing language: C/C++, Python.
  4. Experience with usage of laboratory equipment such as oscilloscopes, power supplies, logic analyser.
  5. Experience with schematic capture, PCB layout, and analysis techniques for multi-layer board designs.
  6. Experience with usage of laboratory equipment such as oscilloscopes, power supplies, logic analyser.
  7. Experience with PCB/A design embedded systems.
  8. Perform electronic circuit design, debugging, and validation for low power, battery-based, 8/16/32-bit embedded microprocessor systems with long lifespan and high-reliability requirements.
  9. Formulate specifications for parts, processes, and tests as needed for product design, validation, and manufacture.
  10. Familiarity with schematic capture, PCBA layout software, and circuit simulation tools.
  11. Proficient in SMT Soldering.
  12. Maintain documentation of designs, creation of prototypes, testing protocols.

We are looking for a research project manager that help manage all activities associated with biomedical &/or social-behavioral research studies considered very complex by the inclusion of several of the following: multiple investigators, teams, sites, sub-contracts, participants, longitudinal assessments/ interventions; &/or multi-million dollar budgets. Ensures completion of contract requirements & client specifications. Qualifications:
  1. Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree in a major such as social or health science or related; OR appropriate combination of education and experience and 5 years' research study or other relevant experience required.
  2. Successful completion of a full course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a master's or higher degree in a major such as social or health science or related; OR appropriate combination of education and experience and 3 years' research study or other relevant experience.
  3. Supervisory or project management experience required.
  4. Complete NU's IRB CITI training before interacting with any participants & must re-certify every 3 years.

Let’s Talk

680 N. Lakeshore Dr., Suite 1400, Chicago, IL 60611

Have a question? let us now and we’ll get back to you ASAP!