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Aug 26, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Smart bracelets: Microsoft files a patent for a revolutionary heart sensor

With a view to replacing one-dimensional sensors and providing more accurate results, Microsoft has filed a patent for multi-dimensional optical sensors designed for smart bracelets. Developed by the company’s engineers, this latest innovation would offer a more exact reading of the wearer’s heart rate.

Photo credits: Microsoft patent/Microsoft

Microsoft is working on new technology that will improve the accuracy of portable devices that measure the wearer’s heart rate. The US giant filed a patent for sensors in January 2018 with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). Made public on 18 July, the document describes the innovations envisaged by Microsoft’s engineers while also pointing out the drawbacks with current wearable heart rate monitors.

Positioning of the sensor

Despite the failure of the Microsoft Band, the company has kept a close eye on the industry and has identified areas for improvement, as reported by the website MSPowerUser. These include the positioning of the optical sensor, which determines how accurately the heart rate is measured. Ideally, the small infrared emitter illuminates the user’s artery, with the heart rate being indicated by the variations in blood flow that it detects.

According to Microsoft, however, there is no guarantee that the sensor can be positioned properly, owing to the “one-dimensional nature” of the equipment, which is likely to misread the data obtained by the system. It is for this reason that the tech giant has come up with an alternative.

Multi-dimensional sensors

Its solution involves using another type of optical sensor, similar to those fitted in cameras. The small multi-dimensional device would be linked up to a light system illuminating arteries and veins. Thanks to the differences in the way in which blood and other organic matter absorb light, Microsoft’s procedure only analyse blood flows without external interference. A central circuit then receives the data and analyses it.

The sensor developed by Microsoft has yet to be fitted in any device. In time it could improve the performance of smart bracelets and smartphones, products that Microsoft has stopped manufacturing.

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