iWatch may use optical sensors for heart rate and oxygen measurements

iwatch concept 1The iWatch may ship with optical technology to measure common physical parameters like heart rate and oxygen, says a report in MacRumors. These two features are mentioned in earlier reports that detail the functionality of the device.Electronics analyst Sun Chang Xu claims that the iWatch will include electro-optical sensors that’ll measure physical parameters like heart rate and oxygen level. In a report published on Electrical Engineering Times, Xu suggests Apple also wanted to incorporate glucose monitoring into the device, but the technology is not reliable enough to make it into the final product. This information comes from supply chain sources who are familiar with the matter.

Though we can’t confirm the validity of the source report, it does make sense as similar optical technology is already being used by portable medical devices. Pulse oximetry meters, for example, uses light and optical sensors to measure the heart rate and the oxygen level in the blood. are available for use at medical offices and home,

The pulse oximeter attaches to a thin part of a person’s body, either a fingertip, ear lobe or toe. The device shines light of two wavelengths through a person’s body and into a photodetector The sensor measures changes in absorbance of the wavelengths and uses this information to calculate the oxygen concentration of the blood.

MacRumors spoke to fitness watch manufacturer Mio CEO Liz Dickinson who said Apple absolutely would use electro-optical sensing in the iWatch.

Having said that, using electro optical sensing requires a very specific type of design in order to work accurately. The sensor needs to be in tight contact with the skin with little ability to move.

Perhaps Apple does not care about accuracy during motion but in any event, at the time readings were being taken even if the person is still, the watch, or band, would need to be flush to the skin.

Apple has hired experts in this filed including Dr. Michael O’Reilly, who joined Apple last year after serving for five years as Chief Medical Officer at pulse oximetry company Masimo. Apple also recently hired Marcelo Lamego, former Chief Technology Office of Cercacor and research scientist at Masimo. At Masimo, Lamego worked on the underlying technology for Pronto-7, a non-invasive medical device that measures a patient’s oxygen saturation, haemoglobin levels and pulse rate.