TECH OFFER

Coaching The Elderly In Their Exercise Routines With Smart Hearables

KEY INFORMATION

TECHNOLOGY CATEGORY:
Electronics - Printed Electronics
Electronics - Sensors & Instrumentation
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TECHNOLOGY READINESS LEVEL (TRL):
LOCATION:
Hong Kong
ID NUMBER:
TO174117

TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW

This Technology Offer is a smart hearable module that can be used to coach the elderly when they exercise. The smart hearable can provide accurate, photoplethysmography (PPG)-based vital signs measurements. Proprietary algorithms and multiple photodiode/sensor pairs are used to remove motion artifacts. As such, accurate bio-signals can be obtained dynamically under motion, and in a continuous real-time manner. These signals can in turn be used to compute other parameters including Heart Rate (HR), Heart Rate Variability (HRV), Respiratory Rate (RR) and Body Temperature.

With these parameters, monitoring of the elderly’s vital signs during exercise can be done in a non-invasive, real-time manner. An exercise regime tailored to the elderly wearer’s past and current conditions can be developed based on this data. This exercise regime can be crafted to maintain the fitness and wellness of the elderly wearer in the areas of stamina, flexibility, strength, balance and breathing. Built-in artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms in the smart hearable can issue audible instructions to guide and encourage the elderly wearer throughout the exercises. Audible alerts can also be issued should the sensors and algorithms detect abnormal physiological data, thus, protecting the well-being and safety of the elderly user.

TECHNOLOGY FEATURES & SPECIFICATIONS

The miniature sensing module comprises multiple light sources and sensor pairs, and a dedicated microcontroller. Proprietary, advanced digital signal processing and algorithms are used to remove motion noise and calculate the various vital signs. These physiological data can be sent directly to a smart phone via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), hence third-party apps can be supported. The miniature sensing module can easily be integrated into third party smart hearables and has already been integrated into many commercially available hearables that measure heart rate.

POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS

This technology offer can be used to coach the elderly during their exercise routine:

  • The sensing module is small, allowing for small earbuds which fit comfortably.
  • Stronger and more accurate signals can be obtained compared to wrist wearables due to less movements of the earbuds, as they are inherently constrained in the ear in a consistent position.
  • The physiological data captured can be used to assess the wearer’s physical health and fitness.
  • The smart hearable can audibly prompt and motivate the wearer to begin simple exercises to stay active and healthy.
  • The smart hearable can audibly coach the wearer through a tailored exercise plan, such as through encouraging voice cues counting the number of exercise reps.
  • The smart hearable can also audibly alert the wearer and guide them to stop the exercise and cool down if irregularities in the physiological data are detected e.g., detection of overexertion (using HRV and HR), irregular heart rate or respiratory rate, etc.
  • The smart hearable can be paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to store data in a companion or 3rd party app which the elderly wearer themselves or caregivers such as their adult children can access, monitor and receive alerts.

Market Trends & Opportunities

There is an increasing trend in people wanting home-based health monitoring to take charge of their own health. This is catalysed by the impact on clinical visits and hospital screening by COVID-19.

Additionally, with an aging population, it is becoming more important for caregivers, healthcare workers, or the elderly’s family members to easily monitor the elderly’s vital signs consistently as well as encourage them to stay active.

The smart sensing wrist wearable market is growing but the elderly may not be adept at using them as the screen size of a wearable may be too small, and it can be inconvenient to refer to a smartphone screen for exercise instructions while exercising. Thus, hearables with audio instructions are ideal in providing guidance and advice to the elderly during their exercise routines.

The elderly today are keen on keeping up with technological advancements, and would appreciate devices which are tailored to their needs but are designed in a visually similar way to those which younger people are using.

Benefits

  • Small and lightweight earbuds are comfortable for wearing throughout the day
  • Convenient, home-based monitoring
  • Continuous real time sensing, combined with vocal cues, allows the device to audibly coach and alert the wearer; the wearer does not need to hold or wear any device in his/her hands or wrist (to refer to instructions) during exercise
  • Any health and wellness programme can be tailored to suit the wearer according to their real time physiological data, to reap maximum results
  • The sensor can be incorporated into earbuds which are visually similar to those worn by younger people, thus, removing the stigma which the elderly may associate with products catered solely for the elderly
  • Easy integration with 3rd party apps allows the elderly and their caregiver to own and have access to their own physiological data, which they can monitor over time
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