LifeBEAM: An interview with Zvika Orron, CTO and Co-Founder
LifeBEAM specializes in creating unique hardware and software platforms that monitor multiple physiological parameters including heart rate, blood flow and oxygen saturation. The Israeli-based company manufactures a number of “vitals monitoring gadgets”, that include a cycling helmet and sports cap. Leveraging IndieGogo in April 2013, LifeBEAM raised funds from the public to develop the helmet, which uses an optical sensor instead of an ECG chest strap to measure an athlete’s heart rate. By using an optical sensor in the front of the helmet, biorhythm collection is less intrusive, less noticeable and less uncomfortable for the athlete.
LifeBEAM is one of many wearable sensor companies focused on measuring biorhythms. Biorhythms are defined simply as the rhythms of life, and include vital body functions, including heart rate and blood pressure. Medical chronobiologists have found that biologic rhythms can affect the severity of disease symptoms, diagnostic test results, and even the body’s response to drug therapy. In a previous Biometric Update Research Note, Biometrics Research Group, Inc. estimated that wearable health and fitness sensors will exceed 40 million shipments by 2015. The research firm expects the biorhythm monitoring market to reach US$100 million in sales by the end of 2015.
LifeBEAM’s helmet is a compact unit, that not only protects its user from physical injury, but also contains a processing unit, communication module and a battery. The data collected from the optical sensor is transmitted to a mobile phone or device using Bluetooth 4.0 or ANT + so that the athlete can keep track of their heart rate in real time. The device can integrate with the Garmin Connect Mobile app and vívofit fitness platform.
The company also offers a sports cap that provides biorhythm collection for joggers. Originally a sports headband, now integrated into a hat, the device additionally integrates cadence and step measurement, but offers benefits standard in the helmet, such as caloric consumption measurement. Both the helmet and sports cap are weather and sweat resistant.
“If you want to use wearables for a long time, they need to be completely imperceptible,” said LifeBEAM CTO and Co-Founder Zvika Orron in an exclusive interview with BiometricUpdate.com. “We have created sensing capabilities that lets consumers integrate technology into their favorite products. LifeBEAM sensors allow users to track their vitals in any environment. We aim to simplify wearables so they can be integrated into everyday life.”
According to Orron, the company was established by former Israeli air force pilots who wanted to be able to monitor human physiology in any environment. LifeBEAM first created a unique miniature sensing platform that was implemented into fighter pilot and astronaut helmets in order to monitor their health, help them perform better, and in extreme cases – even save their lives. The goal was to create a military-grade device that would not interfere or encumber the pilot’s performance. LifeBEAM eventually adapted this technology to the mobile health market by focusing on three elements.
“We focused on the development of optical sensors that can monitor physical activity. Secondly, we focused on the creation of a new algorithm that leverages noise cancellation from weather conditions and g-forces, which is good for high intensity activities. Thirdly, we focused on the mechanical attachment between the sensor and body. Our goal there was create total transparency for the user, reducing the feeling of tightness or the creation of hotspots through the use of different plastics and silicone,” said Orron.
The resulting combination of physics, computing and industrial design lead to the development of the sensor-integrated cycling helmet and running cap. According to Orron, the company promises to continue to innovative. Currently the product uses low energy Bluetooth, but the firm continues to explore using other RF technologies to minimize power consumption. LifeBEAM is event exploring the use of solar and even climatic energy for the next generation of its wearable product line.
“In everything we do, we are aiming to bring physiology to market in the best way possible,” said Orron. “Our aim is to create wearables that simplifies physiological data so that the consumer can become more healthy without even feeling or noticing the device.”