Image source: Valencell

Cuff-like accuracy blood pressure sensor for smartwatches from Valencell

Valencell has announced at CES 2021 new sensor technology for wearable devices. It will allow smartwatches to take blood pressure readings with the same accuracy as traditional cuffs – no calibration needed. This is exciting news as it is something that has not been possible before.

In a press release, Valencell says the technology works with PPG (photoplethysmography) sensors at the ear, wrist or even finger tips. A PPG sensor utilizes green blinking lights that shine into your body. The reflected light is captured allowing AI to determine blood flow patterns. The information can then be used to calculate heart rate, heart rate variability, blood oxygenation and respiration rate.

Valencell’s new sensor allows smartwatches to take blood pressure

Using PPG sensors to measure blood pressure

Valencell has now said it has upgraded the sensor technology to allow for accurate blood pressure measurements. This is great news. Unless, of course, you are a manufacturer of traditional blood pressure cuffs.

The tech uses PPG data and combines it with inertial sensor information and your physical characteristics (age, weight, gender and height). The end result are blood pressure measurements which Valencell says are as good as those taken with traditional cuffs. No calibration needed, so the sensor works out-of-the box!

Valencell’s new sensor allows smartwatches to take blood pressure
Image source: Valencell

The company has not specified, but we are assuming the blood pressure measurements are on-demand. It would be difficult to implement automatic readings due to how measurements are taken. A traditional blood pressure cuff requires users to sit still for 5 minutes before taking a reading, and the cuff needs to be at the level of your heart.

To arrive at the blood pressure measuring algorithms, Valencell used machine learning techniques and blood pressure readings from tens-of-thousands of patients. A clinical study seems to confirm these claims of accuracy.

Valencell’s new sensor allows smartwatches to take blood pressure
Image source: Valencell

The technology was originally announced this time last year, but only for in-ear devices. The functionality has now been extended to other parts of the body.

What this means…

What this means is that it will soon be much easier to monitor your blood pressure. Often referred to as the “silent killer”, many of us suffer from hypertension but have no idea. The first step is knowing you have the condition. After that its a matter of making lifestyle adjustments to bring your blood pressure down to healthy levels.

Valencell has submitted the sensor tech to the FDA and is now waiting for approval. The hope is that it will arrive in early 2021. If this, indeed, turns out to be the case we can expect the first devices to implement the tech in the later part of this year and 2022.

“Our survey results solidify the next frontier in medical wearables, which is to make a measurable impact on the global hypertension crisis through passive technologies that people will actually use regularly,” said Dr. Steven LeBoeuf, President and co-founder of Valencell.“

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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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