Earbuds to measure racing hearts
Your run-of-the-mill earphones could be the latest innovation in mobile health technology. In the past, music has gotten pulses racing, now with health, it seems we can measure how much by. The Kaiteki Institute in Japan and Bifrostec has been developing technology to turn earphones into pulse rate monitors via special software algorithms.
This technology works by utilising the pressure change in the enclosed ear caused by pulsating arteries when earphones are worn. This pressure change occurs at roughly 1Hz and can be detected by earbuds functioning as microphones. Since earphones do not always make a completely enclosed space and measurements can be influenced by ambient noise, the companies have created unique signal processing technologies to combat these issues.
Given the rise of the “Quantified Self” movement, many fitness tracking devices and apps have hit the market. One possible utilisation of this technology could be a simple pulse tracker for those who prefer to run while listening to music with one less gadget to carry. The companies are also developing “at home” medical vital sign monitoring equipment for the future based on similar principles.