Valencell Claims to have the capability for Blood Pressure readings from the wrist
Valencell makes sensor units for wearables, mostly for watches but for the ear too. They provided the sensors for the original Scosche Rhythm and for top-end multisport watches like the Suunto 9. However, these were all sensors for heart rate and heart rate variability. Which is cool, but certainly not unique.
However, Valencell now claims to be able to use similar principles to determine blood pressure on the wrist.
This is massive. A game-changer.
Vast numbers of people in the western world need regular blood pressure readings and from your visits to the doctor you know it’s ‘a bit of a faff‘ as the doctor has to inflate a cuff on your upper arm. I have a similar unit at home (it’s even ANT+ enabled, obviously) but they are inconvenient to use, power and store. Then if you factor in the difficulty of use to more elderly people, you can guess that many people just simply aren’t willing or able to do these kinds of tests themselves.
Plus, when do you do the test? it takes a little while. Wouldn’t it be nice to have automated, periodic measurements linked into a health alerting mechanism?
To cut a long story short, I hope you can see that a watch based solution that measures reflected light shone into the skin is a VASTLY more preferable, convenient and probably cheaper solution.
Many other companies are trying to do this. The Omron Heartguide watch from 2018, coming in at £500, has a solution but it involves inflating a small balloon that is built into their wristwatch. Some Samsung devices I believe also support links to external BP sensors. There are also patents from Apple which involve a balloon built into a wristwatch but unless that ‘balloon’ was super-tiny it would never find its way into an Apple Watch.
Valencell has had a working version of the technology for over a year and this has previously only been implemented for in-ear technologies. Now it’s available for smartwatches.
A modified optical sensor also incorporating heart rate and SpO2 measurement could find its way onto MANY millions of smart watches.
To put the problem into perspective, Valencell cite these figures
- Over 1 billion people around the world have hypertension, according to the World Health Organization
- High blood pressure kills hundreds of thousands of people every year and is a significant risk factor for stroke, heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
- High blood pressure costs over $50 billion dollars every year just in the US. Some experts say that number could be over $1 trillion globally.
So, calling this a game-changer is not overstatement. If it works. But does it?
Valencell has results of the BP validation study available on request here.