The hearables market is poised for rapid expansion. Hearable devices are more than just smart headphones or earbuds for enhanced entertainment or smartphone calls. The span of additional applications ranges from noise cancellation and programmable frequency equalization to hearing assistance devices that are just shy of medically-prescribed hearing aids. The opportunity for biometric sensors incorporated in hearables, devices already set for wireless communication, has great potential for helpful information.
In that context, an announcement from Raleigh, North Carolina-based Valencell, one of the top biometric sensor technology companies, has tremendous significance. Valencell has recently entered a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. The license covers Valencell hearable patents that Samsung can use in future hearable devices. The licensing is for the patents, not Valencell’s products, a differentiation that means Samsung will not have access to Valencell’s product line or support, just to the company’s inventions. In other words, Samsung can now run with the patented inventions to incorporate in their own products or to develop them further.
The relevant hearable patents allow devices to “continuously and accurately” measure blood flow signals optically, even in extreme conditions. The blood flow signals can be converted into biometric data including continuous heart rate, VO2 and VO2 max, resting heart rate, heart rate response, heart rate recovery, continuous energy expenditure (calorie burn), cardiac efficiency and heart rate variability assessments. “Valencell is continuing to invent the future in biometric sensor technology and market leaders like Samsung Electronics recognize the value of Valencell’s foundational inventions in hearables,” said Dr. Steven LeBoeuf, President and Co-founder of Valencell. “We’re pleased to work with Samsung Electronics to provide a patent license for our inventions that are critical for accurate heart rate monitoring in hearables.”
The potential is immense for future hearable products from Samsung Electronics that focus on fitness and health data monitoring, independently or in combination with hearing assistance and augmentation.