KYOCERA develops world’s smallest optical blood-flow sensor

Credit: Kyocera.

Kyocera Corporation has announced the development of one of the world’s smallest optical blood-flow sensor for measuring the subcutaneous volume of blood flow.

The Japan-based company manufactures components for smartphones and wearable devices, and specializes in developing smaller products to enable higher functionality in compact devices. Kyocera has relied on this expertise in miniaturization to develop the latest 1mm high sensor, with dimensions of 1.6mm by 3.2mm, for utilization in small devices such as mobile phones and other wearables.

The wearable device market has expanded significantly in recent years with a focus on health and fitness. A range of healthcare applications, such as chronic diseases elderly care and general wellness, are being developed continuously, and global shipment of wearable devices is expected to increase from the current 2.5 million units to 97.6 million by 2021.

Kyocera is researching upon the sensors’ potential in mobile health applications (mHealth) including monitoring of stress levels and prevention of dehydration, heatstroke and altitude sickness. The sensors will be employed in studying changes in the volume of blood-flow which may alert to these conditions, helping in the development of algorithms for detection.

The sensor has been developed as an integrated module which incorporates a laser diode and a photodiode into a single ceramic package. It features a high signal-to-noise ratio (S/N), small size and low power consumption (output power: 0.5mW), which together help in easy integration of the sensor for mHealth applications.

The volume of blood-flow in the subcutaneous tissue will be measured by placing the device in contact with the ear, finger or forehead. When light is reflected on the blood inside a blood vessel, the light’s frequency varies (frequency/Doppler shift) depending on the blood flow velocity.

Using this shift in the frequency (which increases with accelerated blood flow) and the strength of the reflected light (stronger when reflected off a greater volume of red blood cells), the sensor is then able to measure blood-flow volume.

Kyocera will be offering sensor module samples from April 2017, and expects the technology’s commercialization as a device by March 2018.

More information can be found at: Kyocera.

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