Activity trackers have gained in popularity over the past few years with companies like Fitbit and Jawbone regularly releasing cheaper, better looking, and more efficient models. Garmin recently took it a step further with an optical heart rate monitor installed inside its Forerunner 225 watch. But while these devices regulate, track, even sometimes enforce healthy behavior, the question of how helpful they truly are to your health is a longstanding one.
Two scientists at Stanford’s Start X incubator Echo Labs may change the face of wearable technology within the health industry with a product that is undoubtedly groundbreaking. Pierre-Jean Cobut and Elad Ferber spent the last two years creating a non-invasive wearable prototype that uses optical signals to “measure oxygen, CO2, PH, hydration and blood pressure levels in the blood,” scanning and monitoring blood composition. Meaning, essentially, it sees through skin.
The founders have succeeded where others — including kingpin Apple — have failed. The difficulty in using optic sensors to measure blood stats rests in the interference of “noise,” which is any and all external factors including movement, light, and skin color. The algorithm created by Echo Labs effectively cuts through this noise much like a hospital pulse oximeter, but the difference here is that the “algorithm is robust enough to continuously measure blood composition whether a wearer is running or sitting at a desk,” says Ferber.
More exciting still is the possibility of monitoring glucose levels through a wearable, eradicating all need for needles and making the lives of diabetes patients far safer and easier.
Although the technology is still in its beginning stages, Cobut and Ferber have said that they are already fielding enquiries from medical companies in all fields of the healthcare industry. We are excited to see what the final product will look like.