The platform smartphone or tablet is starting to play an increasingly important role on personal health and wellbeing without the need to be dependent on extra peripherals. It is becoming increasingly relevant for these devices so you can keep an electronic record of observations or easily send the data to a doctor or clinic via email or cloud data service. This would lead to these devices becoming part of various home-based healthcare setups like management of chronic illnesses or catering to the idea of “ageing at home” where older people can stay at home independently or under the care of their relatives, friends or paid carers.
Previously I reported on the use of a smartphone camera and app that implements machine vision for “reading” certain urinalysis sticks, avoiding the need to check against confusing charts. I even put forward the idea of using similar “fluid-analysis” sticks and a smartphone app to check other liquids like drinks for “spiking” or “loading” or to check the pH level in a swimming pool.
Now Fujitsu has developed software code that makes a small digital camera like that installed in a smartphone or tablet as machine vision for taking someone’s pulse.This may be seen to displace the medical skill where you “pinch” the patient’s wrist near their hand and count the beats that you feel for a minute measured by a stopwatch or watch with second hand.
This concept works on the fact that the brightness of one’s face changes slightly as their heart beats and uses the presence of green light to look for haemoglobin which is part of the red (just oxygenated) blood cells. The procedure requires 5 seconds versus a minute with the orthodox method and the software can assess when patient is still for improved accuracy.
Fujitsu hopes to commercialise the technology in 12 months but there are questions on whether they will implement it in their own equipment or license it to other developers. For it to be popular, they would have to license the algorithms to other software developers to integrate in to their projects and / or release a finished software product to the platform app stores for people to use on their devices.
They also see this technology as facilitating unobtrusive measurement of one’s pulse using the camera on a PC, smartphone, smart TV, or tablet this being part of long-term observational-healthcare situations like chronic illness management.
What I see of this is the ability to use the cost-effective and ubiquitous hardware i.e. the multi-functional smartphone, tablet or Ultrabook to work as part of remote health care and allied applications with minimum need to use extra peripherals.