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Could Smart Earrings Shake Up the Wearables Space? Researchers Think So
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Could Smart Earrings Shake Up the Wearables Space? Researchers Think So

Researchers from the University of Washington have introduced the thermal earring, a piece of smart tech they say could redefine how we monitor our health.

The device continuously monitors earlobe temperature to provide more insights into users’ health in a fashionable and discreet manner. Co-lead authors Yujia (Nancy) Liu and Qiuyue (Shirley) Xue conducted the research. 

Like the smart ring, the thermal earring combines fashion and functionality. Similar to a paperclip in size and weight, it includes a magnetic clip that attaches one temperature sensor to the earlobe and another that dangles below to gauge room temperature. It can also be customized with designs made of resin, like flowers and gemstones, without compromising its accuracy. It has a twenty-eight-day battery life, which is far longer than many competitors. 

The research team focused their work on the limitations of current wearables and proposed earrings as a stylish and comfortable alternative. Earlobes, Xue discovered, provide a more consistent temperature reading compared to hands or wrists. In small proof-of-concept tests, the earrings were less variable compared to comparable smartwatches. 

“I wear a smartwatch to track my personal health, but I’ve found that a lot of people think smartwatches are unfashionable or bulky and uncomfortable,” Xue told the University of Washington. “I also like to wear earrings, so we started thinking about what unique things we can get from the earlobe. We found that sensing the skin temperature on the lobe, instead of a hand or wrist, was much more accurate.”

The thermal earring can detect changes related to stress, eating, exercise and even ovulation. Xue and her team of researchers are looking into expanding the earring’s capabilities to include heart rate and activity monitoring and possible sustainable power sources. The device is not yet commercially available but could disrupt the jewelry wearable space. 

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The wearables space has been hot lately, with Oura, Apple and Whoop all making waves and Samsung poised to enter the market with its Galaxy Ring, reportedly set for release this summer.

Brands like Oura, Apple and Whoop continue to evolve the technology behind their products, with new and improved features like Whoop Coach and Apple’s new mental health offerings. Temperature monitoring has become more popular than ever, with some wearables like the Oura Ring using it for natural birth control methods and cycle tracking

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