Founded in 2013, Bodytrak launched their first wearable in 2018. What exactly is this physiological monitoring device and how is different from what’s currently on the market? As the company works through its development cycle, let’s take a look at their unique perspective on this developing platform for high-precision health and safety monitoring.
What kind of biometric hearable is Bodytrak?
A small, non-invasive, in-ear device, Bodytrak is a wearable that’s designed to measure key vital parameters such as core body temperature, heart rate, VO2, and motion. By providing medical-grade measurement of these metrics, the wearable is able to provide the user with information other current wearable devices are unable to measure. This includes:
- Heat stress indication
- Physiologic strain index
- Fatigue level monitoring
- Level of consciousness
- Distance monitoring
- Fall detection
Once the data is received by the device, it’s sent real-time to a cloud-based analytic platform. Using proprietary algorithms, health and well-being alerts are then sent to a user interface to enable early intervention and reduce the likelihood of injury. Two-way audio communication and ambient sound transparency are also key features that can be utilized for health and safety applications, allowing user to communicate with team members or a third-party in a distant location.
From truck drivers to construction workers, first responders, the Armed Forces, and athletes, this new technology has the ability to create a safer environment, improve efficiency, and boost performance through its real-time metrics feedback.
BodyTrak Development Challenges
One of the key features of Bodytrak is providing the user with a non-invasive device to monitor and analyze physiologic functions while maintaining all-day comfort. The hearable design makes the most sense due to its close-proximity to the brain, but developing sensor technology to provide all of the necessary analytics in a small, compact device isn’t without challenges.
In addition to ergonomic aesthetics, creating a battery that can last up to 12 hours for shift workers, developing algorithms that can deliver a range of highly accurate markers, and integrating the needed audio and heart rate sensors into the hardware components are all aspects of development that have taken considerable time and expertise to perfect. Other aspects of core product development that Bodytrak is currently finalizing before the product comes to market include:
- Systems design: Embedded architecture and firmware built from scratch to meet core product requirements for processing and power.
- Hardware electronics: Delivering a development roadmap that couples the system’s design with a full-scale manufacturing plan.
- Cloud analytics: A platform that scales to meet the data processing needs of physiological data and delivers immediate alerts to customer end-points.
The current product features a small compact earpiece that connects to a secondary power and system processing unit via a wired design. Connecting the earpiece to the unit is necessary to prolong the battery life, which is needed for the processors, the algorithms, connection to the cloud analytics, and to provide additional security.
By creating a separate unit, Bodytrak is able to minimize the size of the earpiece to maintain the comfort and aesthetics expected of users during testing. This design also allows motion sensors to be used either in the earpiece or in the secondary unit, which allows for additional capabilities.
The Valencell biometric sensor module located in the earpiece takes-into-account the variances of ear shape across users and is made to deliver consistent accuracy with a high level of reliability. Though the module itself doesn’t need to be in contact with the skin, during testing it was determined that direct contact delivered the most accurate results. Because of this, the sensor in the earpiece was engineered to contact the concha bowl of the ear for improved accuracy of the delivered metrics.
With the limited space inside the earpiece for electronics and circuitry, finding the right location for the sensors to be placed along with the internal workings of the Bodytrak design was one of the largest obstacles to overcome during design development. Fortunately, Valencell’s sensor design showed a high level of accuracy across a variety of different users with a high variance of ear shapes and skin tones, which are known issues when developing wearables.
Reducing the walls of the casework and finding other solutions to create more space was essential in finding good locations for our sensors while maintaining good ergonomics and comfort. Valencell also designed the sensors to deliberately provide an anchor in the ear, which helps to maximize signal propagation and improve overall stability during movement.
Connectivity & Communication
The unit itself is designed to connect via Bluetooth technology. A WiFi network can be used for local network integration when available, and 3G/4G mobile data will also be an option for remote access. GNSS high precision location positioning is a function that can be utilized as well as LTE network capabilities such as those provided by drones in military-based operations in remote areas.
The cloud-centric platform will be available for several different sectors that are currently being tested under trial. Some of these include long-distance driving, military operations, industrial workforces, post-operative patient monitoring, pro-sports fitness training, and fire service. The Bodytrak cloud will allow a supervisor or other professional to monitor those in the field and analyze critical data in real-time to determine an individual’s well-being and vital health information for assessments to be made.
Customer access points to receive the data from individuals in the field will include:
- Android app: Displays vitals alerts direct to Android smart device.
- Web app: Remote access to Bodytrak hosted web application server.
- Web portal: Dedicated web access from a customer’s central command center.
- Cloud API: Direct integration to a 3rd party network.
Each of these options provides the user with options for remote capability in nearly any environment depending on their own capabilities.
Bodytrak discussed their product development journey in a recent webinar, which you can view here: