The tiny little thing in the picture above is a new photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor made by the company Valencell. You’ve probably never heard of these guys but they design and build various sensors for wearable devices that measure heart rate and blood oxygen levels. The new sensor, though, has a different purpose – to bring blood pressure monitoring to phones and wearables.Normally, to measure a person’s blood pressure, you need a big device that cuffs around your arm. The new sensor from Valencell combines data from the heart-rate sensor and the embedded accelerometer and via clever algorithms then calculates the blood pressure. According to Valencell, the sensor managed to perform on par with blood pressure cuffs and other manual devices.
“This is the first commercially available embedded sensor solution to enable BP readings throughout the day with the same accuracy as current BP cuff devices without the need for a cumbersome cuff,” writes the company in a press release. Valencell is now pursuing FDA clearance for the technology and hopes to bring it to the masses later this year.
Given that hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the most common health problems in the modern world, the ability to keep your BP in check just by looking at your phone or watch could prove really useful indeed.