The Electrical and Computer Engineering in Medicine (ECEM) research group in collaboration with the Pediatric Anesthesia Research Team (PART) at the University of British Columbia have developed a mobile solution to measuring key vital signs — called the “Phone Oximeter”.
The Phone Oximeter uses a traditional FDA approved pulse oximetry sensor, but researchers have modified it to interface with a phone, in this case, your iPhone. Currently the setup is being interfaced with an iPhone for trial studies, but is compatible with Android, and other mobile operating systems.
What makes the Phone Oximeter special is its ability to capture SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation), heart rate, and respiratory rate — then dynamically comprehend the variables using the decision support software, giving medical staff or even laymen individuals key help in making decisions on medical care.
So how would a device like this be useful in the medical setting?
The researchers feel the main utility of this device is for monitoring anesthesia in the developing world, where pulse oximetry can prove expensive:
Lack of training and resources, however, has limited the uptake of pulse oximetry across much of the developed world, where death rates from anesthesia remain 100 – 1,000 times higher than the developed world. Key to wider adoption of this life saving technology is the availability of affordable, robust pulse oximeters that can be used by non-specialist healthcare workers.
The primary goal of this Phone Oximeter project is to demonstrate the potential for enhanced delivery of information from a pulse oximeter to enhance the safety of anesthesia care throughout the developing world.
The research team states the overall mobile solution is cheap, and could widely be implemented in the developing world. Currently trials are being undertaken in Uganda to test the efficacy of the device.
The following is a video the research team made of the device in action. (Warning: It’s a bit over the top, leading us to let out a few chuckles)