Valencell, the developer of patented biometric sensors to monitor a variety of body functions, will soon be telling smartwatch wearers in China what their blood pressure is as they make payments and check on their bank accounts.
And the Raleigh company is hailing the deal as proof that demand for such sensors is growing as demand for all-things Internet and wearable continues to explode.
“We believe there is a great deal of growth ahead for this product,” says Ryan Kraudel, Vice President of Marketing for Valencell. “It’s interesting to note that the biometrics in the smartwatch are somewhat a secondary feature for this particular watch, but it reflects the fact that biometrics are becoming a must-have feature for all wearables, even if they are not specifically targeted to sports and fitness users.”
A recent study forecast that the number of wearables will double globally by 2020 with smartwatches overtaking wristbands as the most popular devices.
Smartwatches are not a new venue for Valencell’s Benchmark sensors, but up until Wednesday the Raleigh startup couldn’t talk about any of their clients. (By the way, Sony and LG are current Valencell customers – for other products.)
“This is not the first time Valencell technology has been incorporated in a smartwatch, but I’m not at liberty to disclose the other brand names,” Kraudel explains.
The new watch is a joint development by Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), a global tech provider to the finance sector, and China-based Z-Smart, which makes wearables. The watch includes wireless (near-field) payment technology along with the biometric capabilities from Valencell.
The companies say three big China banks are supporting the new watch.
Embedded sensor package
Interestingly, this isn’t a technology licensing deal for Valencell. As Kraudel explains, Valencell’s sensors are embedded as a package called Benchmark.
“Z-smart purchased Valencell’s Benchmark sensor systems for this smartwatch,” he says.
“With the Benchmark sensor systems, Valencell customers now have two ways to work with our technology – licensing for customized biometrics integrated into wearables and Benchmark which is a pre-packaged sensor system that can be quickly integrated into wearables and hearables.”
The smartwatch deal is another indicator of how big a market China is becoming for Valcell. While embroiled in lawsuits over tech patents with Apple and Fitbit, Valencell keeps plugging away.
“This is not Valencell’s first deal in China, but it is one of the first products to come to market with a Chinese customer,” Kraudel points out. “Another customer, Tigra Sport, recently announce a new product as well (a 3-in-1 fitness sensor).”
And more China news is coming.
“We have several other customers in China with products in development that will launch later this year and in 2017,” Kraudel says.
Check out Valencell’s recent survey about what consumers value most in wearables at: