CSEM, from Switzerland, has finalized the prototype for the Pulsear, an earphone based pulse monitor. The ear buds contain a small infrared sensor which detects the heartbeats. An iPhone is used to process the signals and visualize them, while at the same time playing your favorite songs. The technique was originally developed for ESA, the European Space Agency, for use by astronauts during long space voyages. One of the first to use the device is Sarah Marquis, during a 20,000 km solo hike from Siberia to southern Australia.
An iPhone application lets you see your heart rate over time onscreen and compare, say, today’s jog with last week’s. Subjects who tested the app for use during daily activities and fitness training rated the device highly.
While the current prototype measures only heart rate, future versions could easily be adapted to measure additional vital signs such as blood oxygen levels. This would open up a number of medical applications.