Testing a Wearable Photoplethysmography Sensor to Determine Heart Rate Variability

Authors: Denise Gutierrez, Peter Lazari, Meghna Negi

Advisor: Dr. Alessandro Bellofiore

Heart Rate Variability (HRV), the change in time between heartbeats, is used as a physiological biomarker of Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) function. Accurate and continuous monitoring of HRV patterns gives physicians a non-invasive way of monitoring ANS regulation of the heart. Previous studies have proven that photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors, found in the majority of wearable activity trackers, can provide continuous Heart Rate monitoring. However, there is limited research on the accuracy and medical value of HRV estimates from PPG sensors, meaning HRV estimates from PPG sensors have not been significantly tested. Our aim is to determine the accuracy of HRV measurements obtained from custom-built wearable PPG sensors. We will develop algorithms to obtain HRV from PPG signals and validate the accuracy of the HRV data against a reference research-grade wireless ECG and PPG monitor. Our results will contribute to the research and development of accurate wearable PPG sensors for medical use.