Do you own a bathroom scale at home? Most likely you do, and maybe it even has functions like measuring body composition or body fat. Why are scales so popular? Well, it is inexpensive and offers a convenient and easy way to check your health. All you have to do is place it on the floor and hop on.
These days, blood pressure monitors are also popular in the home, and Omron Corporation, which is number one in global market share of home-use blood pressure monitors, announced in Sept 2009 that its worldwide sales total has exceeded 100million units. *1) The device offers an easy way to measure heart and blood pressure without going to the doctor’s, and its popularity also reflects a general heightening of people’s awareness towards their health.
Prototype of pulse wave sensor exhibited at CEATEC 2012
There will be increasing need for convenient, home-based methods to assess people’s health conditions in the future. New methods of monitoring health can enable early detection of disease and hence prevent the progression of illness, which will in turn benefit society by helping to hold down ballooning medical cost.
Convenience is a key factor in how effective new methods can be. Measuring devices that require elaborate preparations, take a very long time to get measurements, or is too complicated to use without a manual will never catch on and end up collecting dust in people’s closets. Being easy to use motivates people to continue using it, and consistent measuring is what allows changes in health condition to be noticed.
In October 2012, The KAITEKI Institute (TKI) participated in CEATEC Japan 2012, exhibiting a miniature pulse wave sensing device, which was developed jointly with Bifrostec Inc. *2) Pulse waves are waveform representations of volumetric change in the veins of the body due to flowing of blood, and can be useful for the early detection of hardening arteries or vascular diseases. The sensors that we exhibited converts pulse waves into vibrations in the air, which is then detected by a miniature microphone. This is a new type of sensor, and compared to conventional light-sensing pulse wave meters, it produces waveforms that are much sharper and with higher resolution. Unlike conventional electrocardiographic monitors that require electrodes to be placed around one’s chest, this new sensor enables measurements to be taken easily from the fingertips or arm, making the process much easier and suited for home-use.
Future healthcare is one of the focus areas of TKI as we strive to contribute to the creation of a KAITEKI society. We hope to continue working on ideas and concepts that can help people lead happy and healthy lives well into old age.
*1) From Omron Corporation website
*2) Bifrostec Inc