As more fitness devices have been going to the wrist, an important body part has been forgotten in the mad race to be the wearable frontrunner – the ear. With customers already used to buying and wearing headphones on a near daily basis, adding fitness tracking features seems a natural evolution. Hence LG’s earphones that monitor heart rate.
The technology for the earphones comes out of Valencell, a Raleigh based company that focuses on developing and licensing its ear-based technology out to other headphone makers. The earphones are able to track heart rate, temperature, and respiration rate, all while playing your favorite song. The earphones are able to do this through PPG, photoplethysmography, which measures changes in blood flow by shining a light on the skin and measuring how it scatters off blood vessels. This process has been around for years, with hospitals using the same process from a small clip that fits over a finger, but only recently has it been used to incorporate into earphones. Steven LeBoeuf, president of Valencell, states that earphones are far superior to wrist-worn monitors, given that blood flow is more even, and we don’t move our ears constantly as we do our arms.
LG’s earphones, using Valencell’s technology, function just as any wrist-worn fitness tracker would work, except for the small but undeniably useful feature that they double as earphones. With the earphones comes LG’s Fitness App, which unlike many other fitness trackers such as Sumsung’s Gear Fit, works across all platforms. Additionally, the earphones are Bluetooth compatible, however, they aren’t completely wireless. The earphones plug into a Bluetooth module that also provides power, and has its own clip that is worn at waist-level.
The earphones are now available, and currently run for $180.