US-based wearable biometrics firm Valencell’s cuffless blood pressure (BP) technology can now be used in devices worn on the finger and wrist, such as smart watches, fitness bands and pulse oximeter finger clips, the company has announced.

The technology was first unveiled in January 2020 for hearables, hearing aids and other ear-based devices.

Valencell said its technology doesn’t need to be calibrated to a BP cuff and instead uses data from photoplethysmography (PPG) and inertial sensors that are commonly used in wearables today.

Valencell’s BP estimation software processes this data, alongside information about the wearer’s age, weight, height and gender.

The American Heart Association recommends using a home blood pressure monitor that takes readings from the upper arm rather than elsewhere in the body, as measurements taken elsewhere can be less accurate. However, what passive wearable tech like Valencell’s may sacrifice in accuracy it could well make up for in adherence.

A survey conducted by Valencell revealed that 62% of Americans with hypertension only measured their blood pressure a few times a month or less, far below expert recommendations of twice daily. However, 75% of respondents said they would measure their blood pressure ‘more or much more’ if they could do so passively in the background via cuffless technology. Valencell president and co-founder Dr Steven LeBoeuf said: “Our survey results solidify the next frontier in medical wearables, which is to make a measurable impact on the global hypertension crisis through passive technologies that people will actually use regularly.”

Valencell is pursuing US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for the technology in early 2021. This will allow manufacturers that embed the technology in their devices to move forward with regulatory clearance.