Hearing Blog

Ear is the new wrist

December 15, 2020

Stick it in your ear — why the ear is a smart place to put a fitness tracker

Health and fitness trackers are now commonplace in our digital lives. As we strive to stay healthier and live longer, we look to these body-worn gadgets to tell us how were doing with our daily exercise goals, and as a gateway to our overall health and wellness. 

Wrist-worn fitness trackers aren’t always accurate

Unfortunately, many commercially available fitness trackers are often inaccurate. Stanford Division of Cardiovascular Medicine investigated commonly worn wrist-based fitness trackers and found them to be largely unreliable in accurately tracking energy expenditure derived from heart rate and step counts1. 

None of the popular devices they tested were able to achieve error rates less than 20%1. 

A better place to track your health is in your ear

Scientists have long believed the ear to be a more reliable place to track movement and monitor health properties. In 2015, Outside magazine wrote: 

“While the wrist is full of muscles and tendons that move, the ear is all cartilage and about the most inert part of your body. It’s also dark and the arteries here are near the surface of the skin. Shove a sensor into your ear and the signal is about 100 times clearer than at the wrist.”2

And MIT Technology Review agrees, writing in 2014, “If you’re going to choose a place on the body to measure physical signals…two places are far and away the best: the ear and the rear.”3

Livio AI are the first hearing aids to feature 3D motion sensors

The engineers at Starkey knew the ear was a prime health monitoring spot when we started work on Livio AI, the world’s first hearing aid that can help track body and brain health. 

That’s because the ear is a more stable surface, and is consistent with the movements of the rest of the body. The wrist, on the other hand, often has extra movements which are not step related. These can lead to false positive and false negative step calculations and thus, higher variability.

Also, hearing aids are more likely to be worn longer and more reliably due to their multifunctional nature, and people are less likely to leave them behind during daily activities. Gaps in step count and “step-regret” are less likely due to power failures or forgetfulness with Livio AI vs. fitness trackers worn on the wrist or in a pocket.

Proactively take charge of your health with Livio AI 

As the first hearing aids with 3D motion sensors and built-in artificial intelligence, not only does Livio AI sound fantastic, but — along with the Thrive Hearing app — it lets you reliably monitor not only your steps and overall movement, they also measure actions that are good for your brain health, like daily usage of your hearing aids, social engagement, and time spent listening actively.

With Livio AI, taking charge of your hearing, your health and your quality of life has never been easier. No wonder they were named TIME Magazine Best Invention in 2019! 

1 Shcherbina et.al. JPM, 2017
2 https://www.outsideonline.com/1957626/your-head-better-sensors-your-wrist
3 https://www.technologyreview.com/s/529571/using-your-ear-to-track-your-heart/ 

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