EarMetrics sensors are novel sensors to be incorporated in standard hearing aids to provide hearing-aid users medical grade monitoring systems that doesn’t impact on their daily lives.
About the project
This aims to empower people to actively monitor their health, fitness and lifestyle (if they so wish), and/or gain from healthcare monitoring at home; helping people detect illness early, monitor and predict deterioration of long term conditions (e.g. COPD) and allow safe care at home in circumstances when hospital admission would usually be recommended.
The initial EarSwitch is the invention of Dr Nick Gompertz to support patients with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) with UK National Institute for Health and Care Research grants. The sensor within an earphone, provides a new route for communication based around voluntary control of the middle ear muscle; the tensor tympani.
EarSwitch’s work demonstrated the same sensors detect health and fitness signals (EarMetrics) from inside the ear.
EarMetrics sensors provides multiple unique benefits for physiological monitoring. Most notably: i) hearing aids are already worn, making it a natural site to add health and fitness monitoring ii) the ear canal provides a protected target site, close to the blood supply to the brain, providing more reliable and insightful monitoring than existing “wearable” monitoring devices, and iii) the sensors detect measurements from inside the ear where there is no pigmentation, irrespective of someone’s skin colour. EarMetrics therefore provides the first opportunity for important central, multiple health and fitness insights, suitable for people of all skin colours, from hearing aids.
Although ear monitoring (heart rate, pulse waveform and oxygen monitors) has been manufactured in a dedicated earphone, and proposed in a hearing-aid component, these competitors deliver information from the outer part of the ear canal adjacent to the jaw (TMJ) joint. These measurements are affected by jaw movement from eating and talking and are subject to similar racial inequality as finger oximeters; their output is affected by skin colour of the outer ear canal, unlike the EarMetrics sensors inside hearing aids.
This project is to combine EarMetrics sensors into miniature modules to demonstrate feasibility for incorporation in hearing aid, and to demonstrate measures including; heart rate, heart rate variability, breathing, racially agnostic central oxygen levels and a new cuff-less blood pressure alternatives and heart function data.
EarMetrics offers solutions to maintain health-ageing for all, whatever ones skin colour.