MIO promises Holy Grail for athletes this fall

    Soon all sports and fitness enthusiasts will be able to free themselves from their old watches for measuring heart rate. The Canadian company MIO plans to release this fall the world's first ALPHA watch for continuous heart rate recording, which will not have a chest sensor.

    The new ALPHA watch is worn like a regular watch and immediately begins to show a pulse without additional tricks. At the same time, their owner can do any physical exercises, including running at a speed of 20 km / h. Such capabilities are a breakthrough for devices of this kind.

    To promote ALPHA on the market, MIO launched a pre-order using the Kickstarter fundraising service and has already collected the necessary amount.

    A bit of history

    Until recently, athletes could only choose from two types of devices for measuring heart rate during training. The first option: a separate chest sensor is included with the watch, which transmits data on heart rate to the watch via radio. Using such a sensor is inconvenient, and it requires additional care. The second option: the athlete to measure the pulse should press the clock sensor with the other hand. This method does not allow you to measure the pulse continuously. However, it should be added that the watches of the second type were also first put on sale by the MIO company.

    In fact, for twenty years now, the fitness industry has been looking for a simple and convenient way to measure your heart rate on your wrist that you can integrate into your watch. The problem is that the pulse can be easily measured on an immovable arm in a variety of ways, but as soon as the arm begins to move, all these technologies cannot distinguish pulse signals against the background of noise from moving skin, blood vessels, tendons and muscles. When a person runs, the level of such noise is a thousand or more times higher than the level of the signal from the pulse wave. Therefore, it is not surprising that some users on Kickstarter noted that the capabilities of ALPHA sound too fantastic. Especially for them, Liz Dickenson, CEO and founder of MIO, recently shot a short video.

    In continuation, it is impossible not to mention that one of the first attempts by MIO to create such a watch was made together with a team from the Moscow Aviation Institute. A method for measuring a pulse wave using a miniature radar has been tested. Unfortunately, the capabilities of the technology turned out to be insufficient to solve the mentioned problem with noise.


    The ALPHA uses a technology similar to record heart rate with those that are used in hospitals for many years. It looks like an optical sensor worn on the ear or finger. However, this method is only suitable for recording the pulse, when the patient does not move much, but if he starts to move more actively, the sensor flies or measures the pulse incorrectly.

    Despite the difficulties, MIO, working in conjunction with the PHILIPS team, was able to develop a special electro-optical sensor that more reliably detects the pulse. The photo below shows a sensor with two LEDs on a separate circuit board. To account for interference from hand movement, an accelerometer was added to the sensor. Data from both sensors is analyzed by a dedicated microprocessor on board the watch. As a result, the watch continuously displays the user's heart rate in real time.


    ALPHA can transmit heart rate information via Ant + or BlueTooth4.0 radio interfaces. Thus, it is possible to connect a cell phone by radio and watch the pulse through them. The watch API will be open for these purposes.

    In addition to heart rate, the watch will be able to record heart rate variability, which opens the way to using them not only in sports, but also in medicine and other areas related to assessing a person’s condition (for example, to track the onset of drowsiness in train drivers).

    It is pleasant to mention that the author of this article develops for the watch functions for evaluating the stress and fatigue of the user, which in the future will be added to the capabilities of ALPHA in addition to measuring the heart rate.

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