The KAITEKI Institute has been developing a wearable device to measure sounds of the body (pulse waves) that has the potential to provide a new way to monitor people’s health. We exhibited our work so far together with our development partner, Salustec Inc., at the Advanced Healthcare Exhibit 2014 that took place from October 29 ~31st 2014, at Pacifico Yokohama.
At this exhibition, we mainly showed our system that takes pulse wave measurements from the ear. Over 100 visitors came to our booth, and we received many inquiries regarding the technology both during and after the exhibition. It showed the high level of interest in wearable devices in general, as well as more specifically, ways to use these devices in connection with smartphones, and healthcare solutions that use such systems.
Within our company, we refer to the system that measures pulse waves from the ear as the “ear-phone type” system. Using commercially available earphones to close the ear canal, the system works with the earphone’s driver unit (the vibrating unit that emits sounds) acting as a microphone to pick up pulse waves from the enclosed space of the ear canal. One big challenge was individual differences in ear canal shape, which makes it difficult to obtain precise pulse wave measurements. We have been able overcome much of this issue with signal and noise processing technology and adjustments with the hardware, and are now able to pick up sufficient levels of the pulse wave. Accuracy of the measurements and other such technological issues remain, but we have high hopes for future applications of this technology in devices that can enable, for instance, a “system to monitor health by using earphones plugged into smartphones to measure pulse waves while listening to music and jogging,” or “remote health monitorin system for elderly patients in their homes.”
Attached for reference are the documents we distributed at the Advanced Healthcare Device Exhibition.