Rockley Photonics is working with Apple and other companies to investigate next-generation healthcare technology. This company is based in the United Kingdom, and it is in the process of creating a one-of-a-kind spectrometer-on-a-chip platform. From the wrist, this platform will be able to measure blood pressure, blood sugar, hydration, and alcohol levels.
In point of fact, the company with its headquarters in Cupertino is Rockley’s most important client. Samsung, Zepp Health, LifeSignals Group, and Withings are some examples of other companies who have shown interest in the firm and are already collaborating with it. This information was disclosed in a recent filing with the SEC as Rockley is ready to go public on the New York Stock Exchange with a market cap of $1.2 billion (NYSE).
The next generation’s sensing infrastructure
The technology of the next generation makes use of green LEDs, which are found in the majority of smartwatches and fitness trackers now available on the market. However, Rockley’s sensors are noticeably more accurate than the technology that is already in use.
The light that is emitted from the bottom of a smartwatch penetrates the skin and travels deeper, where it is scattered by blood vessels, cells, and the interstitial fluid that exists between them. The wearable device conducts an analysis of the reflected light in order to collect data such as the user’s heart rate and heart rate variability. The information on blood oxygen levels is gathered with the help of a red LED.
Rockley sensors, in contrast to the ones that are generally used today, make use of longer wavelengths in addition to those that fall within the visible spectrum. This is the primary distinction between the two types of sensors. This could completely change the market for non-invasive health care that fitness trackers opened up.
Wearables are not capable of providing the same level of diagnostic detail as invasive procedures. Andrew Rickman, the CEO of Rockley, says that non-invasive methods still have a long way to go in terms of diagnostics compared to existing wearables.
And while a blood test may provide a great deal more data, all it can really tell you is what is going on at the time a sample is obtained. In contrast, a wearable device is able to keep constant track of its user. This opens up new possibilities in the medical field. “
Non-invasive diffuse reflective spectroscopy is the name given to the technology that will serve as the foundation for the next generation of sensors. As was previously said, this method continues to make use of green light technology since hemoglobin in blood has a high capacity for light absorption at that wavelength. But Rockley has made it possible to measure a wider range of absorption peaks by extending the light’s spectral.
According to Rickman, “We are tackling the visible range and extending it into the infrared area.” We are also obtaining considerably higher accuracy utilizing laser technology as compared to LEDs, which opens up a wide spectrum of things. “
Rockley has reduced the size of a bench-top spectrometer to that of a chip in order to accomplish this goal. The performance and the size of the aperture that catches light both suffer as a natural consequence of the miniaturization process. In contrast, Rockley has been successful in achieving a far higher signal-to-noise ratio in comparison to a full-scale system. This means that the data can be used to measure a wide range of biophysical and biochemical indicators.
“It will go a lot further than watches do now, a lot deeper, but not as deep as a blood sample,” Rickman adds. “It will go a lot further than watches.”
It is anticipated that the fundamental component of the sensor will have the capacity to measure blood oxygen levels, hydration levels, heart rate, heart rate variability, core body temperature, breath rate, and blood pressure. While others are not, some of them can be found in the visible spectrum.
The advanced module adds in more biomarkers such as blood alcohol levels, carbon monoxide levels, glucose levels, and lactate levels. Along with more advanced analytic algorithms, the IR Spectroscopy technology that Rockley created is necessary for all of them.
It is anticipated that the first generation of both modules will be available sometime during the first half of 2022. The first marketing efforts for this product are mostly aimed at major brands that make wearable technology.
In addition, diseases each have their own unique biomarkers that can be recognized. Therefore, the technology has the potential to be utilized in the early detection of a wide variety of diseases, including coronary artery disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, COVID-19, asthma, cancer, the flu, and more. There is no limit to the possibilities.
“The diseases that are predominant during life, each one has a handful of biomarkers,” explains Rickman. “[T]these biomarkers can be used to diagnose the condition.”
“These can be measured with a smartwatch that doesn’t hurt you, giving you useful information about the early stages of a disease.”
There are a lot of new businesses starting up, and the vast majority of them fail. The fact that Apple and other major corporations are actively working with Rickman provides a great deal of cause for optimism. The platform has also been listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), which should speed up its move into the commercial market.
The company recognizes the significant potential offered by wearable technology and is making concerted efforts to penetrate this sector of the market. Rockley’s long-term goal is to generate tens of millions of dollars in sales per week. The company anticipates that its revenue will be $1.1 billion in 2024.
The introduction of precision diagnostics from the laboratory to our wrists has the potential to completely transform medical treatment. It almost seems too good to be true, if that makes any sense. Users of fitness trackers and smartwatches will be able to detect ailments early, better regulate nutrition, and focus more of their attention on preventive healthcare thanks to such technology. The best part is that the sensors of the next generation might be in our electronic devices as early as the year after next.