Wearable NIR technology

NIR spectroscopy can probably be called a mature technology, and perhaps one indication that this is the case is its move into use by the general public. Earlier this year (NIR news 25/5), we reported on two keyfob-sized NIR spectrometers intended to enable consumers to analyse food products. Now we have learnt that NIR spectroscopy has moved into the sports training field, being used by individual enthusiasts. Portable NIR devices for use in exercise and sports science have been around for a few decades, however, these new devices are designed for use by the individual rather than a sports scientist.

Two companies, BSX Athletics and Moxy Monitor, are producing or are about to produce wearable monitors using NIR spectroscopy to measure muscle oxygenation. They can send data from the devices to sports watches and smartphones using wireless, including the ANT+ standard widely used by sports devices.

The Moxy Monitor on the thigh of a runner. It is tough enough for use on the rugby field.

The Moxy Monitor uses four separate light sources covering the wavelength range 630–850 nm and two detectors to measure the scattered light. The monitor is a box stuck to the body which measures  saturated and desaturated haemoglobin levels.

The BSX Insight is part of a sleeve that fits over the athlete’s calf.

The BSX Insight also measures saturated and desaturated haemoglobin levels and uses these to predict the lactate threshold, which is a key indicator which professional athletes use to optimise their training.

We would be delighted to hear how any readers get on who may be inspired to try these monitors themselves!

More information: and

On the horizon

Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation (Hitachi High-Tech) has developed a prototype of a portable brain activity measurement device that enables easy measurement of blood volume changes in the forehead in real time, using a headset with NIR sources and detectors, and a smartphone.

Hitachi High-Technologies’ prototype portable brain activity device headband uses NIR and links to a smartphone.

The prototype headset performs measurements from two points on the forehead using NIR, whilst a smartphone (Android OS) application displays the measurement results. By concentrating the main measurement signal processing circuitry in the headset, which weighs approximately 100 g, Hitachi High-Tech has made the device more wearable. Further, the measured signals are displayed in real time on a smartphone application, enabling visualisation of brain activity anywhere, anytime.

Hitachi High-Tech is working to apply this new technology in a wide range of fields, such as cognitive training and learning. For this, various verification studies in cooperation with universities and research institutes are planned, with the aim of developing the prototype into a product by 2016.


Jörn's picture

Artinis Medical Systems also has lightweight, portable NIRS devices (see to be used for scientific investigations [disclaimer: I am working for Artinis].

The PortaMon Mk II is our wireless portable NIRS system, designed specifically for measurements of muscle tissue. The system measures the tissue saturation of the investigated muscle. We call this 'tissue saturation index' (TSI). In addition to TSI, the system also measures oxygenation changes in terms of oxy-hemoglobin, deoxy-hemoglobin, and total hemoglobin, which is an indication of the blood volume in the muscle.

The PortaLite based on PortaMon technology, uses near infrared spectroscopy to measure local tissue saturation as well as oxy-, deoxy-, and total hemoglobin concentrations. The separated probe is small and easy to attach. The PortaLite can be operated using our dedicated software, Oxysoft. It is useful in a wide range of applications, e.g. brain oxygenation monitoring, sports science, or functional studies. The PortaLite has three light sources and is therefore capable of measuring tissue saturation index (TSI), which is an absolute measure of oxygenated hemoglobin.

The OctaMon is our newest instrument based on the Near Infrared Spectroscopy principle. It is a one-of-a-kind 8-channel portable NIRS device and ideal for capturing brain activity while having the freedom to do e.g. physical excercise. Like the PortaMon, it measures changes in oxygenation in terms of oxyhemoglobin, deoxyhemoglobin and total hemoglobin. This device can be applied in a variety of dynamic settings as often required in neuroscience and sports science investigations.