The sensor is funded by the US Department of Justice and aims to help prevent self harm. But why? I hear you ask! Well, suicide is a huge problem among inmates in the US and causes 35% of deaths in local prisons. It is possible to check "at risk" prisoners at least every hour but this is costly and not to mention invasive. The sensors however, could prevent this and provide a cheap alternative to "manpower". The sensors of course would alert prison officers if a problem did occur, which would result on staff being called to places where they need to be in a timely manner - perfect!
Last year the sensors were trialled at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Maryland. Here 10 staff members were locked in cells for 90 minutes where they moved around and breathed at different rates. The sensors were 86% accurate at determining when people in the cells required assistance - not bad!