A team of researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute has turned a smartphone into a sophisticated monitoring app that can capture and transmit vital physiological data.
The new technology has broad application for clinical care and remote patient management.
A team led by Ki Chon, professor and head of biomedical engineering at WPI, developed a smartphone application that can measure heart rate, heart rhythm, respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation using the phone’s built-in video camera.
“This gives a patient the ability to carry an accurate physiological monitor anywhere, without additional hardware beyond what’s already included in many consumer mobile phones,” the authors write.
“One of the advantages of mobile phone monitoring is that it allows patients to make baseline measurements at any time, building a database that could allow for improved detection of disease states,” they said.
The application analyzes video clips recorded while the patient’s fingertip is pressed against the lens of the phone’s camera. As the camera’s light penetrates the skin, it reflects off of pulsing blood in the finger.
The application is able to correlate subtle shifts in the color of the reflected light with changes in the patient’s vital signs.
Details of the new technology are published online, in advance of print, by the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.