Wearables have found a niche application in healthcare. Companies have come up with innovative ways to track key vital signs such as heart rate and measure fitness related data.
Valencell is one such company that has patented biometric sensing technology which it licenses to various consumer electronics companies to convert everyday consumer electronics into wearable health trackers. These sensors are called PerformTek and are embedded into wearable devices such as earbuds, arm bands, and wrist bands. PerformTek is a ultra miniaturized optomechanical sensor module that includes an optical emitter, an optical detector, optomechanics, and an accelerometer. This can fit in an audio earbud and allows for continuous measure of weak blood flow signals under all conditions including extreme physical activity. PerformTek sensor measures blood flow using the optical emitter to shine light at the skin and using the photodetector to sense the scattered light. The received signal has information on blood flow which modulates with heart and respiration rates. Proprietary algorithms extract various blood flow parameters from the data.
This technology used in wearables such as iRiver On headset, LG’s Heart Rate Earphones (they work with LG’s Lifeband activity tracker), Scosche Rhythm and Rhythm +, Atlas wristband, Jabra Sport Plus earbuds, and SMS Audio earbuds. This type of consumer wearable technology can find application in military and for first responders, to track heart rate and other biometric data that is critical for making health related decisions.