Heart Rate

Many fitness devices measure your heart rate, but they often require an uncomfortable chest strap, or they simply may not be all that accurate. The Chinese company PixArt Imaging recently announced a new sensor that addresses this problem. The PAH 8001 is a tiny device that incorporates both an LED light source and an optical sensor in a single chip. The LED emits green light, and the sensor is able to track the blood flow in arteries beneath the wearer’s skin. The company reports that even during a high impact activity such as jogging, the device is accurate with 5 beats per minute.

The device draws little power when operating; the specifications indicate just 1.5 mA. Perhaps the most stunning feature is that the entire sensor package is a surface mount device that is just 3 by 5 mm; you could fit more than a dozen of them on a dime. The company also offers a reference design and and guides to help engineers design the sensor module into products.

This new sensor could be an attractive component for a range of applications. Not only can it give individuals more detailed information about their exercise experience, it also could have health and medical uses. For example, for those individuals who are at risk for stroke, it could be used to sense when a dangerous heart arrhythmia occurs and then warn the patient or caregiver.