Valencell Booth at CES

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In the health and fitness world of CES, a well-known staple at the conference is local NC sensor technology company, Valencell

For the uninitiated, Valencell is an eigh-year-old Raleigh-based company that creates the technology that powers biometric sensors and wearable devices throughout the world, helping consumers better track important health measures during fitness. In fact, it's the only clinically-validated provider of this kind of technology in the health and fitness market.

Its technology called PerformTek is found in hundreds of thousands of earbuds, wristbands, armbands and other wearable devices made by popular consumer electronics brands like Atlas, Jabra, iriver, LG, Intel, and Scosche. Even first-responders and the military are finding uses. In 2014, the company closed a series C round of more than $7 million, bringing its total capital raised to $13 million. A strategic investor is Best Buy Capital.
 
PerformTek is a biometric sensor technology embedded within sensor modules. The sensor technology measures real-time biometric data like heart rate, respiration rate, blood flow and calories burned and sends the data to wireless chipsets, such as Bluetooth, that have the ability to pair with most devices, such as smartphones and tablets. More than 20 patents solidify Valencell’s place in the wearable ecosystem.

ExitEvent sat down with Chris Eschbach, director of exercise science and clinical trials at Valencell, to learn how its technology is evolving and to hear about the company's experiences over time at CES. 
 
Valencell’s mission is to continue to equip sensors with new metrics all while reducing the size of the module and reducing the power it requires. A specific technology in the pipeline is a measure of RRi (R-R interval) blood pressure. That's the time between consecutive heartbeats, which provides helps to identify arrhythmia or atrial fibrillation, heart rate variability, stress on the heart or the amount of over or under-training during a workout. An algorithm has already been developed and the product will be available for license within 12-18 months.

Manufacturing partners will also continue to roll out sensors with Valencell's patented and clinically-validated technology platform and high level of accuracy. The technology will be in devices in millions of consumers ears, wrists and arms by year's end. 

All of the technology is designed to be included in existing headphone and wearable device models, so manufacturers don't have to design new ones. 

CES is the best opportunity for a software company like Valencell to build relationships with hardware manufacturers and gain key partners in the industry, Eschbach says. In fact, it's the company's can't-miss event, each year generating dozens of new leads. President Dr. Steven LeBoeuf gave two presentations at the event: "Beyond Audio with Biometric Earbuds and "Next Generation Fitness Tech."

According to LeBoeuf (in an email), Valencell's big message at CES this year was "the importance of wearables providing data that is accurate, actionable and personalized. Without accuracy, the data is meaningless. Without actionable feedback, then the data is powerless. And without personalization, the data is not relevant to the user."

The layout of this year’s CES also benefited Valencell, as all wearable manufacturers were located together at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Wearables and health hardware were previously scattered amongst the other industries—this year proved they are a technology market all their own. 

"This new location has given us a sort of funneling effect for potential partners and customers," Eschbach says. "Anyone who comes to this new location has already shown a basic level of interest in our sector of the market and are a potential opportunity.” 

For more on Valencell's technology, history and future, watch LeBoeuf's presentation from last year's CED Tech Venture Conference: 

Credit: Ryan Timms