We love to write about hearables. Most in-ear wearable devices we cover on Health Tech Insider help wearers with hearing impairments. However, if you should see someone wearing a wired headset with red earbuds later this year, they may be listening to their heart instead of music. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based MindMics has developed earbud wearables that measure heart performance via low frequency auditory vibrations during the cardiac cycle. The AARP Innovation Labs featured MindMics’ technology at CES 2022.

MindMics SoundPoint earbuds employ infrasonic hemodynography (IH) technology that captures the sounds of every heartbeat. Infrasonic sound frequencies of 20 Hz or lower are below the human threshold of detectable sound. According to MindMics, recording the data from every heartbeat adds up to more than 200 data points per second. While other heart health biometric monitor rely on algorithms to find statistical averages of periodic heart measurements, such methods can have potential limitations. The creators of MindMics prefers to work with all the available data.

In order to process the immense amount of data, MindMics created LifeSpeed Cloud Computing. LifeSpeed can analyze cardiac data in real-time, the company claims. “LifeSpeed effortlessly handles the huge volume of data required to measure and interpret heartbeat data in a few seconds and ping it to the application on your phone as clear and concise direction,” states Anna Barnacka, a PhD astrophysicist who invented LightSpeed and is also the MindMics CEO, President, and Founder.

The MindMics technology measures heart rate and heart rate variability as accurately as an ECG, but with an added benefit. An ECG tells you that there was an electrical impulse signal, but doesn’t tell you the result of that signal. MindMics can detect tiny features in heartbeats from the sounds of the muscles, valves, and blood flow. For example, it can detect arterial stenosis as accurately as a with an arterial catheter, but totally noninvasively.

Two investigational studies published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation in November 2021 support MindMics’ claims about IH technology. The first study, “Hearing the Heart” – Validation of a Novel Digital Health Earbud Technology to Measure Cardiac Time Intervals Through Infrasonic Hemodynography found “high accuracy between IH, echocardiography, and CC hemodynamic waveforms to capture CV time intervals including CV performance measures.” The noninvasive nature of using earbuds compared to echocardiography and cardiac catherization (CC) is a huge bonus. This study was limited to five subjects.

In the second study, “Can a Novel Earbud Technology Detect Severe Aortic Stenosis? Modernizing the Wiggers Diagram Through Infrasonic Hemodynography Synchronized With Echocardiography and Cardiac Catheterization,” researchers studied a single patient who had severe aortic stenosis (AS). The subject simultaneously used MindMics IH earbuds, echocardiography, and cardiac catherization to detect ejection sound and features characteristic of AS. The study concluded that in-ear IH is a new, non-invasive, and effective methodology to measure AS.

MindMics is currently involved with three additional studies to explore applications in detecting heart failure, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation. MindMics technology only has investigational clearance from the FDA at this point. The company aims to have a product by the end of 2022 and to seek FDA clearance for use in clinical settings. MindMics is also seeking wearables partners to incorporate their technology in other products.

Non-invasive, real-time data collection and analysis, especially using all the data rather than extrapolating from samples, sound pretty good to me. It will be very interesting to watch this technology as it develops and moves further on the pathway to FDA clearance.