Summary:

Hearing a mention of Epson doesn’t likely bring wearables to mind but the company says it should: It has a history with smart watches and builds custom sensors. That history comes to the present with Pulsense, a pair of heart-tracking bands.

Epson Pulsense

This summer, quantified selfies will have a pair of new device choices: Epson introduced its Pulsense health trackers at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show on Monday.

As the name implies, both will continuously gather heart rate data as well as other information such as steps taken, calories burned, time in the aerobic heat zone and sleep. The Pulsense PS-100 band and PS-500 watch are priced at $129 and $199 respectively with limited quantities available to pre-orders now.

pulsense watch and band

As Epson began introducing the bands, I couldn’t help but think this is just another company getting into a market it knows nothing about. Epson challenged that notion by sharing some of its history: A wearable electronic watch in 1969 in conjunction with Seiko and the Rc-20 smartwatch from 1985.

Epson wearable history

OK, I thought, that’s impressive but the past is the past. Turns out Epson has some smarts and expertise in QMEMS accelerometers and other sensors, too, these days. One is the proprietary heart sensor that resides in both new products:

“The sensor measures the amount of light reflected from red blood cells and records a single heart beat when the amount of light reflected changes due to a drop in red blood cell count as the blood vessel contracts.  Ambient light interference is minimized and heart rate detection accuracy is improved using a microns thick blocking filter and multi-layer reflective coating that is achieved through Epson’s precision manufacturing know-how.”

The company says it created some of it sensors and chips for industrial environments initially. With the coming boom in wearables, however, it made sense to miniaturize them and the Pulsense devices are the recipients. Both can store several hundred hours of data and later shoot it over to a computer for analysis.

Epson Pulsense

Clearly, these devices compete with the Basis B1 and other full-time heart rate monitors for the wrist.. Assuming the products work as advertised, Epson’s success is likely going to hinge heavily upon retail partnerships else the company runs the risk of being another “me too” in what’s quickly becoming a crowded market.

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