Image source: Rockley Photonics

Rockley Photonics issues promising first release of their clinic-on-the-wrist studies

Rockley Photonics have issued a promising first release of their ongoing studies. In human trials the core temperature functionality of their spectrometer-on-a-chip platform has been shown to be more accurate than oral, ear and infrared thermometers.


A game changer for wearable tech?

The unique sensor platform has the potential to revolutionise wearable technology. The company has more than 120 patents under its name and several hundred million dollars in funding.

Rockley Photonics hardware is currently undergoing human trials. A commercial launch anticipated by the end of 2022. The ultimate goal is to develop something that can be built into wearables the size of a smartwatch, that would be able to accurately track core body temperature, blood pressure, body hydration, alcohol, lactate, glucose trends and much more from the wrist.

Essential readingBest fitness trackers and health gadgets

The main difference over current tech is that, in addition to the visible spectrum, Rockley sensors are able to track higher wavelengths on the invisible spectrum. To this end they’ve managed to shrink a regular spectrometer to something that accurately works and can fit into a smartwatch.

In case you have doubts about the tech, it has been revealed that Apple is Rockley’s largest customer. Other names that are associated with the company include Samsung, Zepp Health, Withings and others.

Rockley Photonics
Image source: Rockley Photonics

Promising first release of human trials

Rockley have entered human trials a few months ago. The first on their sensor list seem to be core body temperature measurements. In a press release, the company has announced that the first stage of their studies examining these types of readings using its non-invasive biomarker sensing platform are complete.

The results show that photonics sensor results closely match reference sensors in the form of digestable temperature tracking pills. In fact, Rockley’s core temperature measurements more closely matched those measurements than commonly used auxiliary sensors such as oral, ear, and infrared thermometers.

Check out the table below. This shows that Rockley sensor readings are closer and more uniformally distributed as compared to reference temperature readings represented by the straight line.

Rockley Photonics
Image source: Rockley Photonics

Interestingly, the spectrophotometry monitors water absorption to arrive at these core body temperature readings. The laser wavelengths detect varying signatures of absorption which are temperature dependent.

We are all aware on the importance of water to our normal body functioning. The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, the lungs are approximately 83% water and the skin 64% water. Overall, the liquid represents more than half of the body’s mass.

Water plays a key role in thermoregulation of blood. Sweating occurs when warm blood is pushed toward the superfical vasculature near the skin through dilation. It cools the body down by facilitating heat transfer from blood plasma to the external environment.

As temperature in our body fluctuates, the level of hydrogen-bound water molucels increases or decreases. Rockley sensors have the ability to read the water absorption peak to arrive at an accurate estimate of core body temperature.


This goes further than current temperature sensing wrist tech

Current tech that works from the wrist does not really have the ability to track core body temperature. Instead it tracks skin temperature which is far less usefull. Fitbit is a great example of this. They track variability in skin temperature on a range of their devices.

The Rockley sensor goes much further. Not only does it track core body temperature, but it does this continuously and accurately.

This is only the first in a series of human trials the company is planning. Some would say that it is perhaps the least exciting. Imagine something sitting on your wrist that can track continuously and non-invasively blood pressure, hydration, alcohol, lactate, glucose trends and more. 

You can read more about Rockley Photonics tech on this link. We go into detail on various modules that are expected to launch. Rockley has also published a detailed paper on the results of their core body temperature human trial.

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