According to an April 25 newsletter from the sensor experts at ams, the company has now created an integrated vital sign sensor reference design which could bring healthcare-specific wearables closer to reality. Based on the company's AS7024 sensor, the new reference design can perform continuous cuffless blood pressure measurements using a software solution from just hear rate measurements (HRM) and electrocardiograms (ECG). It also measures heart rate variability (HRV), making it the most comprehensive healthcare metrics sensor to-date. Best of all, it isn't necessarily expensive and has an accuracy of around <± 7.5 mmHg for systolic pressure and to <± 5.5 mmHg for diastolic pressure. That's based on a total of more than 1,000 measurements across more than 100 subjects with ages ranging from 18 to 65 and the AS7024 frontend sensor integrated circuit (IC) is priced per unit at just $2 each per million.
With regard to the AS7024 sensor IC's technology, it's said to be comprised of three LEDs, photodiodes, an optical front end and sequencer for HRM, and an analog front end for ECG. The reference design is on the smaller side, measuring just 6.1 x 2.7mm, and is designed to take into account variations in vagal tone, arterial elasticity, skin temperature, skin resistivity, and other factors in order to provide accurate readouts. As with other heart rate sensors, this IC utilizes light modulation to measure the pulse rate of expanding and contracting blood vessels. That means that wearables are an obvious choice for implementations which utilize the new solution, such as smartwatches, fitness wearables, and possibly even smaller wearables such as smart rings, earbuds, or smart glasses.
Since the solution is a reference design, this should also be easily integrated into existing healthcare-based technology platforms' and the associated wearables' designs. Furthermore, the news only gets better if current organizations taking part in that incorporate it into their ambitious A.I.-driven solutions. However, that should be tempered by a degree of skepticism that the new solution will ever be used at all. As with all reference designs for new technology, a lot more testing will probably be needed before any major manufacturers take advantage of it. More importantly, the AS7024 IC may not reach the level of appeal required or another company may swoop in with something even better. So it remains to be seen whether this new innovation goes anywhere, despite how helpful it could be to end users.