Image source: Rockley Photonics

First wearables with Rockley Photonics tech could land by end 2023

The wait for the first consumer wearables with Rockley Photonics tech could end in about 12 months time. This is according to a new Rockley Investor Presentation. You can read it in full on the company’s website.

The tech giant is hoping to be behind the revolution in next generation wearables. To this end they are hard at work developing a clinic-on-the-wrist tech solution. It 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.

Rockley Photonics

An important difference with current LED technology is that the Rockley Photonics chip can capture higher wavelengths on the invisible spectrum (in addition to the visible spectrum). 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.

What’s the timeline?

One might think wearables with this type of technology will land in the distant future. But that’s not the case.

The company has been running a number of tests in 2022 to confirm accuracy of individual bio-markers. And all of this is progressing well – as illustrated by the chart below. Human studies for some of the biomarkers are well advanced with an anticipated launch for the base metrics expected in the second half of 2023.

This includes heart rate, heart rate variability, breath rate, blood oxygen, core body temperature (which is better than skin temperature of current wearables) and hydration. The last of these is something that is not available at the moment from mainstream wearable brands. Imagine something on your wrist letting you know in real time, with medical-grade accuracy – how hydrated you are! Blood pressure is expected to follow 12 months later.

Rockley Photonics

Twelve consumer electronics companies are lined up to utilize the technology and Apple is rumoured to be one of them. This is in addition to seven medical device customers. A total of 236 patents have been snagged so far by Rockley with an additional 311 pending.

Here’s a detailed timeline of product development from the investor presentation.

Rockley Photonics

Bioptx band vs VitalSpex

This shows that the Bioptx band, which is a standalone wearable that is planned for medical settings, is due to be launched by the end of 2023. It is expected to have the core metrics. Apart from breath rate, all of these are currently in the human study phase.

A more advanced Pro version of the band with additional metrics (glucose, lacatate and alcohol) should be available towards the end of 2026. In the future additional vitals metrics to be added include urea, creatine, albumin, hemoglobin and bilirubin.

Parallel to the Bioptx band there is something called VitalSpex. This is the same tech but in the form of a chip that can be built into smartwatches and fitness bands. It will provide wearable tech brands with plug-and-play integration into their own products. Presumably, this will be available for consumer release at the same time as the Bioptx Band.

Rockley Photonics

Will this be ready for Apple Watch Series 9? It doesn’t seem likely. But if Apple really is a customer and the above time-line is accurate – it will likely be built into Apple Watch Series 10. Presumably, before that we’ll get some other wearable brands debuting the tech in their devices. Hopefully in less than 12 months time, or early 2024.

If all goes according to plan these will be exciting developments which will really shake up the wearable tech industry. Instead of fitness tracking devices, a few years down the line we will have true health trackers on our wrists.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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