Embedded in an earbud reference design, the technology has demonstrated BP cuff-like accuracy through rigorous testing on thousands of patients and tens of thousands of datasets. According to Valencell, the technology can recognize hypertension with 89% accuracy and provides BP readings within +/-8mmHg for qualified datasets. In addition, the sensor system requires no calibration of any kind, meaning no BP cuff is ever needed to use this technology.
The technology uses photoplethysmography (PPG) and inertial sensors – no ECG, pulse transit time or other sensor modalities are used. It allows someone wearing an earbud to get accurate BP readings throughout the day, for example while they are at their desk at work, listening to music, or watching television, all without the hassle of putting on a BP cuff.
Research and Development
In the fall of 2019, Valencell conducted a clinical research study to validate the accuracy of the BP sensor system adhering to the ISO 81060-2(2018) standard for noninvasive BP cuffs. The results of that study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in March 2020 in a session titled: “Biometric Audio Earbuds Produce Cuff-Like Accuracy in Monitoring Blood Pressure.”
“We are very excited to announce the availability of this technology for a few reasons: 1) we see tremendous public health value for over one billion people with hypertension in measuring blood pressure in devices people are wearing everyday anyway, 2) providing cuff-level accuracy without the cuff in a sensor system that can be embedded in many different form factors and devices is truly groundbreaking,” said Dr. Steven LeBoeuf, Valencell president and co-founder. “Valencell has been working on this technology for many years and we look forward to working with our partners to integrate this technology in their next devices.”
The BP sensor system was developed in partnership with Valencell’s strategic partner Sonion. Sonion and Valencell are also working on a version of this technology optimized for hearing aids and hearing health devices. Additionally, Valencell is conducting ongoing research and development to enable the technology in other form factors and body locations, including the finger and wrist.
Addressing a Global Health Problem
According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people around the world have hypertension and in the US the CDC estimates one-third of those with hypertension don’t even know it. Compounding the problem is the fact that BP cuffs are hard to use and they come with a stigma. If technology like this can start measuring BP in the background with devices that people already use daily, it could start making a dent in a massive global health problem.
The technology is being demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas starting January 7 in Valencell booth #44313. The BP sensor system will be available to integrate into hearables and wearables starting in February 2020.
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