Insights from industry

Wearable Technology in the Sports Industry

Steven LeBoeuf, President of Valencell Inc., talks to AZoSensors about the development of PerformTek, an accurate wearable biometric sensor.

Could you please provide a brief introduction to the industry that Valencell works within and outline the key drivers?

Valencell has invested years of R&D into its PerformTek sensor technology, establishing a true “gold standard” for wearable biometrics technology. Sensors powered by PerformTek are the most accurate available and able to measure heart rate continuously, even during strenuous activity.

Valencell licenses its patent-protected technology to consumer electronics manufacturers, mobile device and accessory makers, sports and fitness, and gaming companies for integration into their products.

Valencell helps companies integrate biometric sensor technology into their desired form-factor and certifies gold standard accuracy. The reason companies want Valencell's technology is because they need an accurate way to measure vital signs and physical activity during exercise with devices that people already wear, such as earbuds, armbands, and wristbands.

How does PerformTek work and what makes it unique?

PerformTek measures weak blood flow signals through optomechanical technology, which removes noise signals associated with motion and environmental exposure from the photodetector signal.

This delivers a pure signal that contains highly accurate biometric heart rate and respiration rate information that works with all skin colors during virtually any activity. In short: our technology gives devices the ability to work on anyone, doing anything, anywhere on the body.

The most unique part of PerformTek is how it intelligently extracts biometrics from noisy optical signals by actively removing noise signals associated with motion (such as skin motion and footsteps) and environmental exposure (such as sunlight) from the photodetector signal.

Valencell's unique approach has been proven accurate on multiple parts of the body. The result is a pure signal that contains highly accurate biometric information regarding heart rate and respiration rate that works in virtually any form-factor, for all skin colors, and during virtually any activity.

Valencell Technology in Action

Video sourced from: YouTube - ValencellTech

What are the major advantages of using PerformTek technology?

PerformTek’s accuracy is unmatched. PerformTek’s optomechanical technology delivers gold standard heart rate accuracy through the ear and the most accurate readings at other points on the body.

It is the first and only sensor to take advantage of the unique physiology of the ear – where users can capture the most accurate and comprehensive health and fitness metrics. Moreover, PerformTek is the only sensor technology proven to be accurate in multiple form-factors, such as earbuds, armbands, wristbands, and more.

What are the primary applications of PerformTek?

PerformTek multiple sizes and form factors are designed to comfortably fit into products of all types, including products that people already use every day, such as earbuds, sport watches, and other convenient and easy-to-use products.

Today, the key application is consumer fitness monitoring. However, new opportunities are emerging in health, gaming, and first responder/military markets.

What industries primarily benefit from PerformTek?

Consumer electronics manufacturers, mobile device and accessory makers, sports and fitness, and gaming companies. Companies in these markets are often focused on making and marketing products, and they find it challenging to direct sufficient internal resources towards R&D on the multifaceted challenges facing accurate wearable biometrics. Valencell fills this gap with a multidisciplinary, highly experienced multidisciplinary team that is focused on seamless, accurate biometric wearables.

You recently announced two patents being granted by USPTO and also the acquisition of $7 million in Series C funding, why is this important for the company?

The marketplace is hungry for seamless accurate biometric wearables, but historically there has been no technology suitable for addressing this need. Valencell is focusing its funds on the R&D required to make accurate biometrics a reality for existing popular consumer form-factors and generating market awareness about the existence of Valencell's innovative, unique, clinically validated biometric sensor solutions.

Are there any recent case studies involving your products that you are particularly proud of?

DC Rainmaker, an influential blogger in the health and fitness space, recently reviewed the Scosche RHYTHM+ as a part of his Summer 2014 Sports Gadget Recommendations and said the following:

“In the last two weeks this has become my primary and singular running heart rate monitor…  I just love it. While I liked the Mio Link wrist straps, I’ve found the signal too weak in some cases and then also not quite as stable as the Scosche from a measurement standpoint.”
-- DC Rainmaker

Additionally, TechHive’s review of the LG Heart Rate Earphones drew attention to the product’s high quality and accuracy through the following:

“With perfectly respectable audio quality and accurate heart rate data, LG introduces an entirely new product category into the wearables world.”  -- TechHive

Where do you currently supply to? Are there plans to expand operations in the near future?

We are a global company, because our licensing partners are global brands, and there are certainly plans to expand operations as the demand for wearable technology continues to increase.

How do you see the sector you work within progressing over the next decade?

Combined with cloud analytics, PerformTek sensor technology will grow from fitness to health, as well as military and first responder markets, including triage and therapeutic tools. Additionally, when integrated into gaming platforms, a new dimension of user experiences will be realized.

For example, by tracking players’ biometric data, games can be personalized to change dynamically in relation to participants’ fitness levels, which will help the game continually evolve and engage.

How will Valencell be a part of this change?

Valencell will be a part of this change by leading the way in next-gen accurate wearable biometrics, developing analytical tools to convert biometric data into meaningful health and fitness assessments, and serving as thought-leaders for next-gen applications based on the aforementioned actions.

Steven LeBoeuf, Ph.D

About Steven LeBoeuf, Ph.D

As co-founder and President of Valencell, Inc., LeBoeuf has developed ongoing strategic partnerships between Valencell and leaders in industry and academia.

He has raised more than $10M in funding for Valencell and is the inventor/co-inventor of more than 50 patents.

Prior to Valencell, LeBoeuf led the optoelectronic biosensor program at GE Global Research, where he managed the development and productization of biosensor systems and developed cutting-edge nanosensor technology.

Before joining GE, LeBoeuf developed optoelectronic solid-state materials and devices while researching at North Carolina State University. LeBoeuf holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from N.C. State and a B.S. in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Alessandro Pirolini

Written by

Alessandro Pirolini

Alessandro has a BEng (hons) in Material Science and Technology, specialising in Magnetic Materials, from the University of Birmingham. After graduating, he completed a brief spell working for an aerosol manufacturer and then pursued his love for skiing by becoming a Ski Rep in the Italian Dolomites for 5 months. Upon his return to the UK, Alessandro decided to use his knowledge of Material Science to secure a position within the Editorial Team at AZoNetwork. When not at work, Alessandro is often at Chill Factore, out on his road bike or watching Juventus win consecutive Italian league titles.


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