Apple’s interest in Electromyography and Facebook researching noninvasive glucose monitors

Apple is exploring EMG (Electromyography) sensors. Electromyograpgy is a procedure that evaluates the health condition of muscles and the nerve cells that control them. Typically your physician orders an EMG when there are symptoms of a muscle or nerve disorder.

Apple exploring EMG sensors at its Biomechanics Research center

Apple’s interest in EMG and its applications was revealed in a new job posting yesterday.

The position for Applied biomechanics researcher is looking for someone with Hands-on experience with one or more experimental methods to study human movement (such as motion capture, electromyography (EMG), force/pressure instrumentation).EMG Sensors at Apple

The position requires a PhD or 5+ years of research experience in an engineering or science field with biomechanics specialization (such as musculoskeletal mechanics, soft tissue mechanics, injury/rehabilitation, exoskeletons, or assistive devices).Apple Biomechanics research role

Apple is not the first big tech company to explore the area of EMG and biomechanics.

Facebook looking into PPG, EMG and non-invasive glucose monitors

Facebook has been hiring loads of people into their Reality Labs division with sensor experience. In fact, the latest position ‘Wearable Biomedical Sensors Research Scientist’ at FaceBook Reality labs calls for

  • 4+ years of experience modeling, designing, building, and testing wearable biomedical sensors and systems (e.g. electromyography (EMG), galvanic skin response (GSR), photoplethysmography (PPG), blood pressure and non-invasive glucose monitors)Facebook biomedical research and noninvasive glucose monitoring

In the past, FRL (Facebook Reality Labs) has hired folks with deep experience with neurophysiological sensing (e.g., EEG, EMG, fNIRS, ECG, PPG, EDA).

The hiring in the area of neuromotor interactions was expedited after the acquisition of CTRL-labs in 2019.

According to Facebook, it is developing noninvasive neuromotor input technology based on electromyography (EMG), aimed at giving users unparalleled control in AR/VR. 

External wearable devices, such as accelerometers or EMG sensors can be used to infer symptoms and symptom severity like rigidity, bradykinesia and gait disorders in Parkinson’s disease patients.

Role Reversal of sorts

It is interesting to see how the focus around health tech is changing for these two companies.

Facebook has been working in VR / AR and related sensors for quite some time now with a few products in the market. Their work in biomedical sensors is however nascent. 

On the other hand, Apple has a ton of research experience with PPG, GSR, and other sensor areas and is now looking to explore EMG and motion mechanics and such.

Given, Apple’s interest in this emerging research area, one can conclude that the Cupertino giant is keeping a watchful eye on next-gen AR/VR-based motion sensing and neuromotor capabilities and potential applications.

We can now add Facebook to the list of companies that are searching for the ideal noninvasive glucose monitoring solutions.

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.

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