While the use of heart rate monitors is nothing to new to fitness enthusiasts, many users find that their readings can at times inaccurate. Movement, sweat or clothing can all alter the readings on traditional wristband monitors. Now, North Carolina-based company, Valencell, has developed a device known as the PerformTek, which promises to deliver real-time, accurate heart rate readings during exercise. The PerformTek uses pulse oximetry technology similar to the fingertip sensors used in many hospitals and doctor’s offices. Pulse oximetry makes us of infrared light to measure blood flow, and thus, heart rate, respiration, and blood oxygen levels. Because the device works best in a dark environment with minimal movement, the ear– which is surrounded by a host of capillaries– is an ideal location for users to wear PerformTek. Additionally, Valencell’s developers noted that while most fitness enthusiasts were likely to forget their heart rate monitors before a workout, it was unlikely that they would forget their headphones.
As Valencell continues to perfect their design, they are aiming to provide their technology to headphone developers, which would allow the PerformTek to be inserted into a traditional pair of headphones that use a 3.5mm smartphone jack, eliminating the need for external power.