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New Tech Turns Headphones into Heart Monitors

At the Healthcare Device Exhibition in Japan, Kaiteki Institute Inc and Bifrostec have developed and demonstrated a new tech which will surely excite health nuts everywhere. Their demonstration showed that it was possible to use the slight changes in pair pressure in the ear canal to detect the wearer's heart rate.

It's pretty interesting stuff since many earphones are terrible at getting a perfect, air-tight seal, which is essential in being able to contain and detect the pressure wave so that it can be used effectively. That said, the team used headphones that cost about $8; they say that it doesn't require any special kind of headphones. If the device and software can be installed in a smartphone, for example, then it could handle all of the processing and then report the user's heart rate directly.

A Bifrostec representative said, "There are many people who listen to music while jogging… with the new technology, it becomes possible to measure their pulse waves without any special effort."

In addition to the earphone tech, the team showed off a ring prototype sensor that operated on the same basic principle, as well as software that checks autonomic nerves by using data from either sensor. The autonomic or visceral nervous system is largely responsible for all of the core functions of the human body including heart rate, digestion and perspiration. It operates below the level of consciousness and can provide substantive information on overall health.

As much as tech has revolutionized our lives already, with this we'll have one fewer excuse to stay healthy and fit.