The nonstop talk about wearables, specifically devices that will be worn on the wrist, is reaching a fever peak. The expectations for Apple to release some sort of iWatch is only fueling the fire, though a recent article in Technology Review highlights that the wrist isn’t the best place for measuring your vitals. It’s your ears.
Valencell, a company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, thinks they have it figured out.
To make this kind of thing work, PerformTek fits an optical emitter, photodetector, and accelerometer into an earbud. The emitter shines an infrared light on a part of the ear between the concha and antitragus—essentially, the lower part of the bowl of your ear, just above your earlobe—and the photodetector picks up the light that scatters off nearby blood vessels. The accelerometer, meanwhile, measures your movement. A digital signal processor (which can be housed inside or outside the earbud) analyzes the data, removing “noise” like skin movement or sunlight and extracting information like heart and respiration rates. With accelerometer and blood-flow data, LeBoeuf says, Valencell’s algorithms can also estimate things like the number of calories you’ve burned. The data is then sent on to your smartphone.
Maybe Spike Jonze wasn’t too far off with Her?