Fitbit known for its smartwatches and activity tracking bands such as Fitbit Sense and Fitbit Charge is also exploring a “Ring” type wearable.
According to a new Fitbit patent released today, “Ring for optically measuring biometric data”, the company is researching biometrics detection device that can help with detection of oxygen saturation and more.
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Unlike, other prevalent Ring-type wearables, this new device from Fitbit will not only wirelessly communicate with your phone but will also be able to communicate with your existing Fitbit.
The monitoring device will be able to activate a plurality of light sources to emit light at a red wavelength and an infrared wavelength; use photodetectors to detect the emitted light over a period of time in order to determine the difference in absorption of the emitted light at the red wavelength and the emitted light at the infrared wavelength. This will help to determine the oxygenation level in blood of the person.
The Fitbit Ring is expected to use a red wavelength around 660 nm and an infrared wavelength of 940 nm.
The Patent highlights how biometric information such as blood pressure, glucose level, lipid concentration, hematocrit level, or carboxyhemoglobin level could be detected using the new device with built-in optical sensors.
Measuring a person’s blood oxygenation (SpO2) continuously in a form factor that they are willing to wear for long periods of time has been traditionally difficult.
Continuous measurement overnight during sleep is needed to monitor for de-oxygenations related to sleep apnea.
Traditional devices clip over the tip of the finger, or less commonly, attach to the ear or forehead. Given that these traditional devices are uncomfortable, bulky, typically tethered, and otherwise unsuited for casual wear, a Ring-type wearable will be more user-friendly and/or comfortable.
A ring would also allow for general blood oxygenation monitoring throughout the day (e.g., for monitoring chronic conditions such as COPD) without obstructing a user’s activities in a way a finger clip would. Other approaches rely on bulky and obtrusive devices.
A ring is much less obtrusive to normal activities than this approach, and thus more suitable for all-day monitoring.
Given the popularity of Oura Ring and other digital health Ring wearables such as CARD-I for remote health monitoring, it is no surprise that Fitbit might be exploring a new device that is different from a Smartwatch to offer biometric monitoring without a display.
The Fitbit patent, Patent #: US010918289, was filed in 2019 and approved today.