Kyocera has developed an optical sensor for earphones that measures the blood flow in hypodermal tissues, providing biometric data that can be analysed. Currently, it's able to keep tabs on nerve and blood pressure, possible signs of heat stroke and levels of dehydration.
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While the ability to capture this kind of biometric data from the ear is an area that's continuing to grow, the size of the sensor could help set Kyocera apart in this field. It measures just 3.2 x 1.6 x 0.9mm, while still remaining reliable and highly sensitive, according to the company.
This size opens up the possibility for the sensor to be housed inside earphones, an area which, as we explored earlier this week, is arguably the best for measuring heart rate and harvesting other biometric data.
And though Kyocera is aiming to commercialise the sensor in 2018 or 2019, it's also looking to expand when the sensor is used. For example, its ability to play music and track data simultaneously would lend itself to being used when exercising, but the company is also suggesting the sensor could be used to track sleep more accurately and gauge mention tension.
For now, though, this is only a working prototype. And while hearables will continue to expand what data can be tracked and when, whether this will lead to them replacing more practical wrist-based trackers remains to be seen.