RF Technology for Health Monitoring: Michael Leabman, CTO of Movano Health
RF (radio frequency) technology uses radio waves to transmit and receive information wirelessly. RF is often seen in health monitoring devices such as wearables, implants, remote monitoring systems, and telemedicine. Mostly, though, it is used for communications, but the folks at Movano Health believe that they can use RF to monitor things like blood pressure and blood glucose.
We had a chat with Michael Leabman, CTO of Movano Health, to learn more about the company’s technology. Mr. Leabman has over 20 years of expertise in the field, with multiple related patents. His experience with RF started in the military and he has since founded four RF-based start-ups. Movano Health has recently been awarded three new patents covering an RF-based health monitoring device and methods for health monitoring that include signal processing circuits specifically designed to improve RF-based health monitoring. This brings the total number of patents to 21, with many more supposedly pending, on their novel approach to leveraging RF in a health wearable.
Alice Ferng, Medgadget: Please tell the Medgadget audience about yourself and what led you to Movano Health.
Michael Leabman (Founder & CTO of Movano Health): I have worked with RF technology for over 20 years, first using it for radar/military purposes, then in the long-distance communications field, and in wireless charging. I saw the opportunity to apply RF technology to health and founded Movano Health four years ago to advance RF technology to measure glucose and blood pressure.
Medgadget: Just to give a general idea – where is RF technology most often seen, and what are its biggest limitations?
Mr. Leabman: RF technology is most often used in wireless communications i.e., the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities of your cell phone. The opportunity to use RF technology in other fields, especially health and medical, is very promising for the accuracy it allows relative to optical sensors which are influenced by pigmentation and skin thickness.
Until recently, using higher frequencies with a small chip was limited. However, Movano Health is on the cutting edge of using RF frequencies with a silicon/IC chip. Building our RF sensor platform on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 22FDX® (22nm FD-SOI) solution allows us to use frequencies traditionally not possible using silicon.
There is an immense opportunity to use RF in health wearables; cuffless blood pressure and non-invasive glucose monitoring are just two examples.
Medgadget: Can you talk more about the recent patents and innovations regarding RF-based devices for Movano? What have you innovated on where there were gaps in the market/technology? What makes your RF technology so novel?
Mr. Leabman: Movano Health’s System-on-a-Chip (SoC) combines multiple antennas and a variety of frequencies in the smallest ever RF-enabled integrated circuit (IC) designed specifically for blood pressure or glucose monitoring systems. Movano Health has spent more than five years building this novel sensor technology from the ground up in an effort to achieve an unprecedented level of precision in health monitoring. Our RF chip is essentially a miniaturized radar which comes from my experience using radar to track planes and other government programs.
The SoC is being integrated into Movano Health’s smallest wrist worn wearable to date and will be tested in clinical studies in March 2023.
Movano Health has 21 patents issued and 38 pending. Most recently, Movano Health secured patents for mixing signals at different frequencies, utilizing data derived from amplitude and/of phase data, and for multi-band radar-based sensing.
Medgadget: What is the device that’s been created for Movano that uses this RF technology?
Mr. Leabman: Our SoC can fit on the Evie Ring in the future or be incorporated into other form factors we are still evaluating.
Medgadget: How does the Evie ring stand out from competitor devices? Especially the Oura ring, that also tracks women’s cycles, as well as other wearables that do this based on temperature. Why would yours be more accurate?
Mr. Leabman: The Evie Ring is the first of its kind – a health wearable for women.
- The ring was designed with women at the forefront, starting with an open design which allows for 2mm of flex, ensuring it’s comfortable throughout the day as women’s hands change size.
- Health metrics, insights, and resources are all combined to be relevant to women at every stage, especially approaching and during menopause.
- The Evie Ring has already met FDA benchmarks for SpO2 and heart rate, and we are pursuing FDA approval for the ring.
Medgadget: Can you talk more about RF security and privacy of HIPAA and biometric data?
Mr. Leabman: As a company, ensuring the privacy of everyone’s health data is top priority. All health data that travels from the ring to the cloud back to your phone is encrypted, de-identified, and never shared with third parties without the user’s express consent.