RALEIGH, N.C. – With some industry experts tolling the death knell for wearables, biometric sensor maker Valencell is betting that hearables are the wave of the future.
“This is an area where we’re seeing a great deal of traction among our customer base,” said Ryan Kraudel, vice president of marketing for Valencell.
Hearables are sensors that are embedded in an ear-worn device. The device contains at least one sensor module and is connected to a digital platform or other devices to gather physiological data.
Kraudel said hearables have greater accuracy because the ear has less obstruction than all of the skin and bones on a human wrist, and because it doesn’t move as much as a wrist does.
“The ear is actually one of the best places to measure biometrics because it allows for a very clear optical signal and doesn’t move much,” he said.
Valencell recently launched two new versions of its sensor systems, including a version designed specifically for hearables. The company makes no end-user devices—only the technology that makes the devices smart. Its current customers include Sony, Samsung, LG, Jabra and Bose.
“Think of Valencell as the Intel inside biometric wearables,” said Kraudel.
The Valencell Benchmark BE2.0 is a highly-accurate, complete biometric sensor system ready for integration into hearables. The design incorporates all necessary hardware and software for a complete biometric sensor system.
Kraudel said the biggest factor driving increased interest in hearables is the accuracy of the technology. He said that wearables manufacturers know that their devices don’t offer the accuracy of medical devices, and that medical device manufacturers haven’t been able to design something a user wants to wear. Hearables offer both accuracy and wearability, he said.
“We see hearables as a way to accurately measure biometrics and activity levels in a device that people wear anyway,” said Kraudel.
Kraudel said some companies are also looking at how to integrate the technology into hearing aids to collect a broader spectrum of biometrics.
“We probably won’t see anything in that area come to market before 2018, but there is lots of work going on there,” said Kraudel.
Valencell is also working on a smartphone-enabled blood pressure sensor, which would launch in 2018 or 2019, Kraudel said.