updated 04:50 pm EST, Wed December 22, 2010
ESA, CSEM develop heart rate-tracking earbuds
The European Space Agency has partnered with Swiss company CSEM to create the Pulsear prototype headphones for the iPhone, which are the first known to monitor heart rate. They don't require a chest belt like traditional methods of collecting heart rate data. Instead, the headphones send an infrared signal through the tissues in the wearer's ear.
A tiny photo diode then records the results and sends the information to a device that plugs into the iPhone. All users need to do is wear the headphones. An app could monitor the heart rate over a set amount of time.
The technology has trickled down from the one used to monitor astronauts' heart rate. Applications could involve exercisers, hospital patients and, eventually, be developed to monitor other vitals, such as low oxygen levels. While industrial partners are being sought out, there is no indication when the technology will make it to market. [via SlashGear]