For people who love listening to music and very concerned about their health during various activities mainly like gym workouts and running, they have used two separate accessories for these purposes. Fitness bands for heart rate monitoring and sports headphones for listening to music. But it is always excessive to wear both health trackers and earphones at the same time. People find this approach of tracking the health on the go as a disturbance, they always find the fitness tracker as an extra accessory. On the other hand, people love to use headphones during the workout and such activities. Because of such requirements, various brands (Philips, TCL, Bose, Jabra, JBL, etc.) have come up with the new technology, that integrates headphones with the heart rate monitoring sensors.

This kind of technology is becoming a new way of tracking the heart rate as well as listening to music for people engaging in the fitness workout. This can increase the comfort and productivity on the go. In the future, the data gathered/extracted was used to build a cloud-based music recommendation system based on emotion recognition. This kind of technology could possibly open a way for new business in the future.

To satisfy in commercial, healthcare, and wearable markets these earphones with the heart rate monitor (In-Ear Heart Rate) should/must 1) Run into daily life (comfortable, convenient) 2) efficient and accurate 3) User-friendly and autonomous 4) Able to provide understandable, actionable, motivational feedback to the user.

Based on its design the headphones with such technology use third-party apps to display and monitor the heart rate to the user.

Top 3 Earphones with the Best Heart Rate Monitor solution:

Phillips SN503:

  • This sportswear headphone is wireless, with a secure and comfortable fit no matter how hard your level of exercise is.
  • The heart rate monitoring module inside the earphone design is the world’s smallest – claimed by Phillips.
  • These earphones could be integrated with a wide range of fitness tracking apps (Apple Health Kit, Google Fit, Polar Beat, etc.)
  • Have a six-hour battery life with IPX5 waterproof and sweatproof.

TCL ACTV200BT:

  • The workout earphones, it comes with the wireless feature and has a battery life of 14 hours only on music mode or 6 hours on music + heart rate monitoring.
  • It supports a wide range of fitness apps as well as with the accurate vocal reading heat rate button on its console.
  • It comes with the ear-hook style for a secure fit and IPX4 water or sweatproof.

JBL Reflect Fit:

  • This running earphone with Bluetooth has a neck collar that rests around the neck. The earpiece is then extended further from there up to the ears.
  • It also comes with the heart rate monitoring button that doesn’t need any fitness apps (in case) it just gives the vocal response of the heart rate.
  • It has IPX5 water or sweat resistance.

Heart-rate monitoring feature:

This type of technology in the health monitoring system market is new and emerging very fast to bring comfort in people’s life. With such a feature of heart rate monitoring, it likely hits sports, fitness, healthcare, and medical markets. The unique feature in these earphones is that they use an award-winning technology developed by WBD101. This technology uses a built-in sensor inside an earbud to track your heartbeat with precision in real-time. WBD101 technology uses Photoplethysmography (PPG) to measure heart rate, OpticalFusionTM (multiple sources and sensor type), and ActiveHeartsTM (Advanced Digital Signal Processing – ADSP) to extract pure heart-rate with filtered noise.

This cutting-edge non-invasive earbud sensor was developed by WBD101. It comprises a sensing module and a microprocessor supported by the Bluetooth Smart Technology (BLE). This optomechanical sensor module consists of the sensing element that was embedded within the earbuds. It is made sure that the sensor was fitted or rested in the ears between concha and antitragus.

Centering the heart rate monitoring as the main feature in this noninvasive earbud model, the miniaturized optomechanical module plays the heart of the system. This mechanism that senses the optical and mechanical information from the area of the user’s ears comprises an infrared light-emitting diode, a photodetector element, a three-axis accelerometer, and an optomechanical housing. This whole system was designed to fit inside the earbud model without any external modification to the product surface. It’s all about using the earphone on the go but with the additional feature of heart-rate monitoring.

The optical and mechanical signals or data from the ears are collected using the Photoplethysmography (PPG) and OpticalFusionTM, and the sampled data is then processed by the Advanced Digital Signal Processing (ActiveHeartsTM) algorithms coded on the firmware to extract the weak blood flow signals. By using the sensor fusion algorithms uses the signals from right and left earbuds, then actively processes the noisy body movement signals to filter out the accurate biometrics even during the aggressive workout or body movements. Working principle of PPG:

  • PPG makes use of the low-intensity infrared green (IR) light.
  • Low-intensity light is absorbed by blood vessels, PPG sensors could able to detect the blood flow since there is a continuous change in light intensity that is passed through the blood vessel.
  • The light signal voltage from PPG is proportional to the quantity of blood volume, providing higher precision.

This PPG technology is not a new technology it has been used in a wide range of commercial use cases in the healthcare sector such as to measure the oxygen saturation, blood pressure, cardiac output, and some vascular disease. This miniature technology is feasible for monitoring physiological metrics such as Heart Rate (HR) accurately through the ear. This sensor accurately could predict the HR through all activity levels – rest to the peak.

Fitness apps to pair with and monitor the heart rate:

These SmartbodyTM processors use the latest Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to pair and easily display the extracted physiological information on the smartphone. It works with the majority of sports and fitness-tracking apps like (Strava, Runkeeper, etc.) to get the best possible result from every workout. By monitoring the real-time heart-rate it helps the user to know when to push hard or to get low in their workout routine. With these apps’ integration feature, it helps track your health and fitness with ease. Even an AI system could be used to keep track of fitness without continuous human monitoring through apps. This earphone is compatible with all the mobile phone (IOS, Android) users.

This activity or fitness trackers are getting more secure, but still some posing risky. Fitness apps are like any other device that is connected to the internet. These devices are connected to the hardware module via BLE (Bluetooth low energy protocol) to receive the encrypted data (human physiological signal) and display it to the user via a mobile phone application. Even though the data flowing through this activity is encrypted they are prone to some security issues.

  • End to end encryption of data can easily be breached (from the sensor to the application via BLE)
  • When such an application is hosted in the cloud then the data transmitted between the mobile SDK (mobile application) and the cloud can be breached by the hackers.

Even though the security and privacy risks take place on the minimal circumstances, 10 best fitness apps like Runtastic, Google Fit, Nike Training Club, Strava, RunKeeper, Map My Fitness, JeFit Workout Tracker, Sworkit Workouts, etc. have never suffered a massive data breach. These business of developing the fitness apps are continuously updating their privacy policy and making sure that their algorithms cannot be intercepted.

People use these applications besides all the drawbacks because of their capabilities to provide you the service of real-time monitoring of your body condition. They have some key features of wireless syncing, activity notification, early detection of the emergency situation, etc.

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is designed to provide low power consumption. This allows app to communicate with BLE devices such as Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) sensor, proximity sensors, etc. They have the features of small amount of data transfer between nearby devices, interacting with the proximity sensors, etc.

Some of the key BLE terms and concepts are:

  • Generic Attribute Profile (GATT): Small pieces of data known as the “attributes” are sent and received by means of the GATT profile over the BLE link. One GATT profile for each service e.g. heart rate data, battery indicator, etc.
  • Attribute Protocol (ATT): GATT is built on the top of the ATT. Each attribute is identified by a Universally Unique Identifier (UUID), it is a 128-bit format for string ID. The attributes transported by ATT are formatted as characteristics and services. The characteristic contains a single value, while service is the collection of characteristics.

Water Resistant:

These earphones come with the IPX5 water-proof and splash-proof feature to withstand the situations of jogging in the rain, sweat hard, and even during the shower. This build quality helps extend the durability of the product.

Conclusion:

These headphones with HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) are the best product to keep track of the health as well as listen to music when doing workouts. These are accurate and make it easy to use, but it is sensitive to the motion to some extent.

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