Image source: Rockley Photonics

Rockley Photonics moves closer to public release of clinic-on-the-wrist wearable

Rockley Photonics has teamed up with healthcare technology manufacturer Medtronic. The duo will jointly develop game-changing clinic-on-the-wrist wearables. These will be able to continously monitor a bunch of stats including core body temperature, blood pressure, body hydration, alcohol, lactate, glucose trends and much more from the wrist.

This is not the first time we have written about Rockley photonics. They’ve developed sensor tech that has the potential to change the health and fitness wearable industry from the ground up. And that’s putting it lightly. Best of all, we’re not talking about some distant future. All this should could come fairly soon.

In a press release, Rockley Photonics announced today that the partnership with the Minnesota-based Medtronic will off the company’s Bioptx™ biomarker sensing platform. The wearable has not yet been made available to the public but it has passed tests validating its accuracy for a number of metrics (such as core temperature).

The new partnership will help scale manufacturing of Rockley’s technology in preparation for public release. It will also help run the clinical trials necessary to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Rockley Photonics are Medtronic are hoping to reach “volume production” in Q4 2022, which means sensors based on the ground-breaking technology will start to make their way into wearables in 2023. This is both in medical settings and in widely available fitness trackers and smartwatches.


The tech works by utilising a unique spectrometer-on-a-chip platform. Rockley have managed to shrink down the size of a regular spectrometer and increase the signal-to-noise ratio as compared to a full size machine.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets

This allows it to capture a wider range of health data than typical sensors built into fitness trackers and smartwatches, non-invasively, continuously and with clinical grade precision. The last of these is something that is (for the most part), not possible currently.

The main improvement on today’s sensor technology is that, in addition to the visible spectrum, Rockley sensors can capture higher wavelengths on the invisible spectrum. This allows them to measure a wider range of absorption peaks and additional biomarkers.

In essence, these are the same green light-emitting diodes that are used by heart rate sensors today. But they are upgraded to use a much broader-spectrum of light sources. Rockley says the sensor “analyzes blood, interstitial fluids, and various layers of the dermis for constituents and physical phenomena of interest.”

Rockley Photonics unveils its game-changing clinic-on-the-wrist wearable
Reverse side (skin side) of wristband

What does this mean in real life?

It means that the sensor can capture data on blood oxygen, hydration, heart rate, heart rate variability, core body temperature, breath rate, blood pressure, alcohol levels, carbon monoxide, glucose and lactate – all with clinical grade precision. Plus it has the potential to identify diseases at an early stage. It sounds almost too good to be true.

You can read more about the tech on this link. We go into detail on various modules that are expected to launch. There’s also an excellent Linkedin post with a video on this topic.

Digital health sensor

A few months ago, Rockley unveiled the first pictures of the upcoming sensor and wrist wearable. It’s not exactly a looker, but keep in mind that this is a first generation product that is being used in trial studies. And don’t forget the incredible range of biomarkers it will be able to track. Since those images, the company has slightly amended the look of the device (first image in this article).

Rockley Photonics unveils its game-changing clinic-on-the-wrist wearable
Wristband to be used in human studies

The wrist wearable houses the sensor which communicates with the accompanying Rockley smartphone app. Here’s what Dr. Andrew Rickman, Chief Executive Office and founder of Rockley Photonics had to say.

“Our full-stack sensor solution, which brings together optical and electronic hardware, firmware, algorithms, and cloud-based analytics, is an exciting milestone on our roadmap. Our reference designs will significantly aid our customers and partners with the deployment of our technology and accelerate their own scalable, high-volume product delivery.”

Might we see the tech in a future Apple Watch?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes. In fact, a 2021 Securities and Exchange Commission filing reveals that Apple is Rockley Photonics’ largest customer. And it’s not the only one. Samsung, Zepp Health, Withings and others are also said to be actively working with the company on the next generation tech.

Rockley says it is initially targeting the consumer electronics market (fitness trackers, smartwatches, etc), before moving on to medical device companies. In March 2021, the company entered into an agreement to combine with publicly traded SC Health Corp.

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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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