University of California-Berkeley engineers have developed a new technology that would allow integrating blood-oxygen levels to the list of vital symptoms measured on future fitness trackers.
The new pulse oximeter sensor, which integrates all-organic optoelectronics, uses red and green light and is capable of measuring arterial oxygen saturation and heart rate as precisely as traditional, silicon-based pulse oximeters.
University of California-Berkeley electrical engineering and computer sciences associate professor Ana Arias said: "There are various pulse oximeters already on the market that measure pulse rate and blood-oxygen saturation levels, but those devices use rigid conventional electronics, and they are usually fixed to the fingers or earlobe."
Engineers noted that the prototype displayed accurate pulse and oxygen readings when it was put up against a traditional pulse oximeter.
The team used red and green light, which deliver comparable differences to red and infrared when differentiating high and low oxygen levels in the blood.
The green and red organic LEDs and the translucent light detectors were integrated onto a flexible plastic piece and the detection of fresh arterial blood flow pattern enables it to calculate the pulse.
Arias added: "We showed that if you take measurements with different wavelengths, it works, and if you use unconventional semiconductors, it works.
"Because organic electronics are flexible, they can easily conform to the body."
Image: The new pulse oximeter sensor composes organic ptoelectronics that uses red and green light. Photo: courtesy of Yasser Khan.