Rockley Photonics gets first commercial purchase for biomarker sensor

Rockley Photonics has snagged the first commercial purchase for its next generation biomarker sensor. This is tech that has the ability to monitor glucose, hydration, blood pressure and more, non-invasively and continuously. The initial units are expected to ship in Q4 2022.

We have written many times now about this ground-breaking technology. It has the potential to change the smartwatch and fitness band space from the ground up. A total reshake of the industry.

Unlike current tech which works by shining green lights to measure heart rate and red lights to measure blood oxygen, Rockley Photonics has developed a miniaturized spectrometer-on-a-chip platform. The benefit is that, in addition to the visible spectrum, Rockley sensors can capture higher wavelengths on the invisible spectrum.

The impressive list of vitals stats that can be monitored includes things such as core body temperature, blood pressure, body hydration, alcohol, lactate, glucose trends and much more. Much of this has already undergone human testing. The promise is that the tech will be 1 million times higher resolution and 1,000 times more accurate than current light emitting diode technology. 

In a recent interview with Advnture, the company’s CEO Dr Andrew Rickman explains that they’ve adopted a $100,000 benchtop instrument that you can put your finger in. They’ve taken that instrument, and shrunk it onto a chip. It might sound simple, but the research and development costs to develop this manufacturing technology cost about half a billion dollars!

To help Rockley Photonics prepare to scale manufacturing for public release, they’ve recently teamed up with Minnesota-based Medtronic. Now we have news that the company has signed a supply agreement with an unnamed customer. This means the first commercial units of the Rockley Photonics Bioptx biomarker sensing wristbands will be on the wrists of medtech customers by the end of this year.

Rockley Biomarker sensor
Rockley Photonics Bioptx biomarker sensing wristband

All we know about the purchaser is they are a “global healthcare technology provider”. So while Apple, Huami, Withings and other big brands are reportedly involved with this tech, it is not one of these names behind the purchase order. They are potentially expected to integrate the Rockley chip into their platforms.

The purchase order is for the Bioptx wristband – so a complete end-to-end solution designed to “improve patient treatment”. Most likely a device for the medical field – to monitor hospital patients from their home.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

Nevertheless, this is exciting news for those of us who follow wearable news closely. Because it brings this ground-breaking platform a step closer to wide commercial release. Imagine something on your wrist that keeps tabs on all the above mentioned vitals metrics, in real-time and non-invasively. It is equivalent to wearable lab on your wrist – a mini clinic.

Rockley Photonics says that high-volume production of its sensor is expected in 2023. The hope is that for consumer wearables, we’ll see the first devices with this tech roll out towards the end of next year.

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