Researchers develop biometric watches for glucose monitoring, pulse tracking

Two separate research teams are working on independent wearable biometric watch devices that both tap changing patterns of scattered light for non-invasive glucose monitoring and pulse tracking.

Research papers published in The Optical Society's journal Biomedical Optics Express, detail how the biometric watches rely on what's called a "speckle" light effect, which is the result of laser light hitting uneven surfaces or the scatter of laser light from an opaque object.

The glucose biometric system, which monitors the bloodstream for glucose and hydration, represents a groundbreaking technology, according to its research team.

"Glucose is the holy grail of the world of biomedical diagnostics, and dehydration is a very useful parameter in the field of wellness, which is one of our main commercial aims," bioengineer Zeev Zalevsky, of Israel's Bar-Ilan University, said in an announcement. The researchers said a commercial device could reach market within two to three years.

The pulse tracker biometrics watch, under development by the Optics Research Group at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, promises to deliver pulse data non-invasively and provide readings not impacted by a wearer's movements, according to a second study.

"This paper shows for the first time that a speckle pattern generated from a flowing liquid can give us the pulsation properties of the flow in spite of motion-induced artifacts," graduate student and biomedical engineer Mahsa Nemati said in the announcement. "Sophisticated optics is not necessary to implement this, so the costs for devices can be kept low. Another advantage is that the devices can be non-contact or far from the sample."

The device news comes as wearable mHealth device interest is growing among consumers, grabbing interest from tech titans and drawing attention from federal agencies.

A survey from Mavosky Health/Kelton revealed that 81 percent of Americans would use a wearable health device. That presents a lucrative opportunity for tech companies looking to enter the industry, such as Microsoft, Google and Apple.

For more information:
- read the announcement
- check out the study on the glucose monitoring device
- here's the study on the pulse tracking device

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