Rockley CEO on 'rudimentary' wearables and its revolutionary sensor

Watch Andrew Rickman speak at Wearables London
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If you missed Wareable's event in London last month, we have you covered.

The lead talk at Wareable Presents: Wearables London was by Andrew Rickman, CEO of Rockley Photonics.

He revealed how the company's new sensor can detect biomarkers such as core body temperature, hydration, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose, and alcohol, among others.

Andrew opened his talk by explaining how "rudimentary" the existing forms of wearable sensors were – and how there was room for a better technology in the market.

Watch: Andrew Rickman talk at Wearables London

Garmin's 'rudimentary' sensors

"It's interesting that the likes of Whoop, Garmin, everybody is using this technology, and it's pretty rudimentary. It's pretty basic," Andrew Rickman told the audience.

"So it has to beg the question whether there is something much more powerful that you could wear on your wrist? Something that could be still manufactured and produced inexpensively and be made available to everybody."

"What's needed here is a vastly more powerful method of monitoring your health, not just a few LEDs and a temperature sensor and an accelerometer, but something that's akin to a clinical laboratory instrument that would analyse a lot of different things," he said.

Rickman said that the company was "working with all the major consumer device companies and working with the major medical device companies."

How the Rockley Photonics sensor works

Rockley CEO on 'rudimentary' wearables and its revolutionary sensor

The Rockley Photonics sensor uses a powerful spectrometer – and instead of using LEDs, uses laser technology and power levels harmless to the skin.

This is paired with a spectrophotometer chip, that decodes the signals, and means that the Rockley sensor can be "trained" to track metrics like core temperature, hydration, glucose, blood pressure and more.

"This isn't just a sensor, this is an instrument and you just train it to these particular biomarkers," Rickman continued.

Defining the healthcare system

To train the device to track core temperature Rockley got people to swallow a transmitter tablet, which recorded their core stats, and stuck them in a hot tub.

"We correlated the skin and core temperatures, and now we can measure your core body temperature more accurately on your wrist than you can if you put something in your ear or on your forehead," said Rickman.

  1. Rockley proves hydration tracking in trials

And for hydration, the spectrophotometer chip measures the absorption of water and collagen and lipids in your skin. And that ratio reveals your hydration level.

"Then we go on to to blood pressure, measuring blood pressure, non invasively without a cuff," Andrew Rickman continued.

"The laser technology allows us to measure blood flow incredibly accurately, so we get this absolutely beautiful signal of your heartbeat. And it correlates perfectly to the ECG signal that you can take off your off your chest with electrodes," Rickman explained.

Bringing to market

Rockley CEO on 'rudimentary' wearables and its revolutionary sensor

Rockley's medical wearable is in production at the moment, and will be released late in 2022 according to the company.

Consumer wearables will follow in 2023 and 2024, when finally, we could have mainstream smartwatches that offer cuff less blood pressure and non-invasive hydration tracking.

"We do think that continuous health monitoring is expected to define the next generation of wearable devices," Andrew Rickman concluded.

"I do believe that health and wellness is the driver of wearable devices – and that the next generations of wearable devices will completely transform the healthcare system."

Make sure you watch Andrew's full keynote from the Wearables London event.

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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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