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NDSU helping develop wearable smart device to predict diabetes onset

The project's aim is to integrate artificial intelligence and sensor technology into a sort of Type 2 diabetes predictor using a person's breath.

Three people in white lab coats at NDSU look at a device
Danling Wang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NDSU, is flanked by former NDSU graduate students Razuan Hossian, left, and Mike Johnson, right.
Justin Eiler
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FARGO — Three faculty members at North Dakota State University have received a grant to help develop artificial intelligence technology that may someday be used to predict the onset of diabetes.

The more than $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation was awarded to Danling Wang, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, Jen Li, professor of computer science and Kristine Steffen, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, the university announced on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

The project, whose aim is to develop cutting-edge healthcare technology and improve the area’s workforce, is a collaboration between six universities, including NDSU and the University of North Dakota, and several private-sector partners in North Dakota, Alabama and Arkansas.

The team’s goal is to integrate research expertise from sensor development, nanotechnology, 3-D printing and Edge AI to build a smart, wearable device to predict the onset of diabetes by monitoring a patient's own breath.

Wang said the device, likely a watch, would not need internet or Wi-Fi to operate.


The NDSU faculty members will mainly focus on developing its sensor.

“We will be reducing the computation time and make the device give much faster and efficient data analysis and processing,” she said.

Daily activity, meals and glucose levels could be integrated into the device, with the aim of helping people avoid developing Type 2 diabetes in the future, Wang said.

The technology could be broadened to other areas; for example, to agriculture, where it could predict the onset of plant diseases.

Multiple patents and intellectual property are expected from the effort, Wang said.

The project will also provide hands-on educational opportunities for NDSU students, and has drawn support from Sanford Health and John Deere.

“The workforce training program of this project will provide high-quality potential employees for the community and the proposed Edge AI technology can benefit local industries such as agriculture and manufacturing,” Li said.

The lead institution for the project is the University of South Alabama; collaborating institutions are NDSU, the University of Arkansas, the University of North Dakota, Alabama A&M University and Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College.

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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