Startup strives to push fitness tracking beyond activity monitoring

Echo Labs is developing an mHealth wearable that could put today's fitness tracking devices and heart rate sensors to shame as it aims to analyze a wearer's bloodstream to monitor human body vital signs such as glucose levels, according to a Forbes report.

The wristband device, which is two years in the making, measures light frequency in blood molecules to determine pH and oxygen levels as well as blood pressure, a wearer's hydration level and even CO2 in the blood stream, reports Forbes.

Echo Lab founders Elad Ferber and Pierre-Jean Cobut are nowhere close to a final product, but the excitement regarding their device is drawing interest from a range of interested partners and buyers, as firms from healthcare providers to car makers are interested in getting the latest tech into play for consumers and users. The company's proprietary algorithm taps electromagnetic waves via human tissue to measure light frequency that reveals blood molecule concentration.

"Any molecule gives a response to a frequency in light," Cobut tells Forbes. "If you know what the frequency is, you can detect the molecule. The lower the concentration of the molecule, the harder it is to pick up."

Such a development would clearly shake up what is already an exciting and lucrative time for the wearable industry. No longer just the focus of pharmas, providers and payers, wearables now are a focus for athletic wear companies, including Nike and Under Armour, with the latter partnering with shoe seller Zappos on fitness tracking capabilities in footwear. A recent Visiongain report declares this year may just be the "breakthrough" year for revenue and consumer adoption of fitness and mHealth wearables, with the global wearables market projected to hit $16.1 billion by the end of 2015 as a long expected mass market acceptance is achieved.

As FierceMobileHealthcare reported last week, another mHealth prototype, a new wearable sensor tag, aims to detect everything from a user's body temperature to a user's stumble and fall. The Fujitsu sensor taps Bluetooth Low Energy for data sharing.

The Echo Labs effort, as Forbes reveals, is the closest a wearable maker has gotten to turning the traditional medical office pulse oximeter capability--that tiny LED light-based fingertip monitor--into a mobile functionality. Not only does Ferber believe his band will achieve that feat, but it could result in the first-ever glucose measurement device not requiring a skin prick for blood measurement.

"We wanted to provide users with real insights with things that they can act on," says Cobut tells Forbes. "We had to start by measuring data that's insightful in nature."

For more information:
- read the Forbes report

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