News | December 22, 2010

iPhone App Helps Monitor Heart Rate Via Headphones

December 22, 2010 – Thanks to advances in space technology, an iPhone will soon be able to do double-duty, keeping people in tune with their favorite music and their vital signs while they go for a jog.

With the support of European Space Agency’s Technology Transfer Program (ESA TTP), Swiss company CSEM created the final prototype for its Pulsear device this year. A tiny unit embedded in a regular earphone uses infrared signals to see how fast the listener’s heart is beating. It sends infrared signals through the tissues in the ear. A tiny photo diode records the results and sends the information via the earphone wires to a device that plugs into the phone. The result is an accurate reading of the user’s heart rate, without the irritation of wearing a chest belt.

“Lots of people listen to music while they exercise and lots of people find the belts uncomfortable, so we thought it made sense to measure heart rate through the ear,” said CSEM’s Dr. Andrea Ridolfi.

Earlier attempts by CSEM to monitor heart rate using earphones were not satisfactory, said Ridolfi, because the available technology was not sophisticated enough. But that was before CSEM developed a complex chest sensor for measuring astronauts’ blood oxygen levels for ESA’s Long Term Medical Survey system. “Once we were done, we said, ‘let’s recycle this.’” Ridolfi said.

With a grant from the ESA TTP’s ‘Technology Transfer Demonstrator’ initiative, CSEM created the prototype. The initiative supports development of new hardware and software to bridge the gap between the space technology and its terrestrial use.

An iPhone application shows the owner’s heart rate over time onscreen and can compare it to jogs from the week before. Subjects who tested the app during their fitness training rated the device highly. While the current prototype measures only heart rate, future versions could easily be adapted to measure additional vital signs, such as blood oxygen levels. This would open up a number of medical applications.

“Technology transfer from space has a huge potential to spur innovation in areas you wouldn’t expect to find space-tech,” explains Frank M. Salzgeber, head of ESA TTP. “ESA TTP wants to help European industry to apply sophisticated space solutions to their markets.”

More information: www.esa.int/ttp

Related Content

The FDA is concerned about cybersecurity of ICDs and cyber security of other medical devices.
Feature | Cybersecurity| August 16, 2017 | Dave Fornell
There is growing concern among patients and regulators that medical devices, especially implantable electrophysiology
Wearable monitors create patient generated health data, PGHD, that can help prevent acute care episodes in heart failure.

Wearable monitoring devices may offer a new tool to help prevent acute care episodes in heart failure.

Feature | Heart Failure| July 25, 2017 | Lola Koktysh
Despite their best efforts, many patients tend to develop heart failure after an acute event (e.g., a heart attack or
Left Atrial Pressure Monitor Offers New Hope for Heart Failure Patients
News | Heart Failure| July 14, 2017
A review appearing in the July 18 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) discusses current...
Sponsored Content | Videos | Heart Failure| July 13, 2017
William Abraham, M.D., director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medica
monitoring a heart failure patient's chest fluid buildup with remote monitoring using the SensiVest

A heart failure patient wearing the SensiVest remote monitoring system for a two-minute a day assessment. 

News | Heart Failure| July 13, 2017
July 13, 2017 — About 5.7 million adults in the U.S.
Ohio State Investigating High-Tech Vest for At-Home Heart Failure Management
News | Heart Failure| June 28, 2017
Doctors at The Ohio State University Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital are testing a high-tech vest that measures fluid...
First Canadian Patient Implanted With CardioMEMS Heart Failure Sensor
News | Heart Failure| June 23, 2017
In a Canadian first, a medical team has implanted the wireless CardioMEMS HF device inside a heart failure patient. The...
Northwell Health Partners With Peerbridge Health on Remote Patient Monitoring
News | Wearable Sensors| June 01, 2017
Northwell Health recently announced a new partnership agreement with Peerbridge Health Inc., to explore the future of...
Overlay Init