The future of blood oxygen monitoring will depend on your smartphone camera

Currently, smartphones have reached a level where they can provide users with some of the capabilities of medical devices. From counting steps to sleep tracking systems and measuring pulse and breathing rate, they are all among the features that are offered on many phones today. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Washington plans to add the ability to measure their oxygen levels to the set of medical capabilities of smartphones.

In a paper published in NJP Digital Medicine, the team described the first validation of a smartphone camera-based blood oxygen (SpO2) measurement system. In other words, these scientists have developed an algorithm and proven that it is possible to measure one’s oxygen saturation level with a smartphone to the same level as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved baseline for over-the-counter pulse oximeters.

Measuring blood oxygen with a smartphone

As a reference, the FDA recommends that a pulse oximeter should be able to measure blood oxygen levels up to 70%. 6 volunteers were evaluated as part of a study by the University of Washington research team, which ultimately proved that using their algorithm to detect blood oxygen levels through a smartphone camera performed very well in 70% of cases with an accuracy of nearly 80%.

written by DigitalTrendsUsing smartphone cameras to measure blood oxygen levels does not require the user to hold their breath for this purpose. Additionally, previous smartphone-based SpO2 measurement methods could only detect the 85% floor; But the new algorithm can provide the same baseline pulse rate as medical-grade pulse oximeters.

Measuring blood oxygen with a smartphone

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The technique used here is not too different from the SpO2 sensors found on smart watches, including the Apple Watch Series 8 and Galaxy Watch Series 5. When Drobin’s flash shows the path of blood in the vessels, the rate of light absorption changes, and then these changes are processed by a custom algorithm to measure the blood’s oxygen saturation level.

The future of health monitoring with smartphones

Measuring blood oxygen with a smartphone

Jason Hoffman says:

Our data shows that smartphones can perform well in the critical threshold range. One of the important advantages of using smartphones to measure blood oxygen saturation is their availability. In addition, the new method does not require advanced cameras or custom hardware and can accurately measure blood oxygen levels just by using the camera sensor next to the LED flash.

In addition, sending SpO2 data from smartphones to a medical professional is much easier than measuring with a smartwatch, pairing the watch with the phone via a mobile app, syncing the data, and then transferring it. Today, paying attention to SpO2 levels is very important; Because we live in a world that has been affected and damaged by Covid-19.

The team of scientists from the University of Washington has made all the data from its research open source so that other interested parties can expand it. This is very important; Because it includes data collected from six people, five of whom were of Caucasian descent and one of African descent. It should be noted that fine-tuning smartphone-based SpO2 measurement requires more diversity and a wider volunteer network.

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