Both yes and no. Yes, because if a phone is equipped with an oxygen meter, it is feasible to measure Spo2 using the camera on the phone.
No, because phones today lack the ability to perform Oximeter functions. The solution cannot be found in an app.
Apps like MFine’s aim to raise health awareness and empower users to track diseases that necessitate the use of medical devices to control.
In the COVID-19 era, telemedicine has received a much-needed boost. People no longer queue for hours outside pharmacies, paying full price for hand sanitizers, pulse oximeters, and personal protective equipment (PPE) when the pandemic first struck.
Can Phone Camera Measure Spo2
Many businesses scrambled to come up with ways to quarantine those who live and work from home. MFine, a Bangalore-based digital health business, was one of the first to respond, with an app-based gadget that uses only a fingertip, a smartphone camera, and a flash to monitor oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels.
The technology, named MFine ‘Pulse,’ is currently in beta testing for Android users and will be for iOS in a few weeks. Despite the fact that clinical trials for the tool are still ongoing, the tool appears to be promising, with an accuracy rate of 80%, according to a news release.
Thousands of users are using the tool in the company’s Android beta rollout, creating hundreds of readings every day that are fed into a machine learning algorithm, which the company’s CTO Ajit Narayanan claims will surely increase the tool’s accuracy in the months ahead.
“For the time being, our goal is to make our SpO2 monitoring instrument as precise as, if not more accurate than, pulse oximeters accessible at pharmacies,” Narayanan added.
The photoplethysmogram (PPG) signal is used by the SpO2 tool to collect information in the form of reflected light from a user’s fingertip or wrist. The PPG function on Apple Watches works in a similar way.
While Apple’s exclusive technology also allows users to get an “ECG” report, which helps doctors monitor abnormal heart rhythm and other heart issues, MFine’s patented technology allows users to see a key sign of respiratory health. It makes an optical image with light from camera flashes and light sensors incorporated into smartphone cameras.
These sensors can assess changes in the way light is absorbed when they aren’t fueling our Instagram habits. Based on how much light is absorbed by the blood vessels beneath the skin in various wavelengths of light, the signals taken up by the camera lens are broken down into Red, Blue, or Green parts. This data is then entered into an MFine-developed machine learning algorithm, which generates a SpO2 value.
According to Narayanan, these apps will become more accurate and commonplace over time. Machine learning is an important aspect of MFine’s attempts to improve the accuracy of the mobile-based SpO2 application. It can examine patterns of data or statistics collected by devices.
“So you got a string of numbers from a PPG, but what does it signify to a customer?” “ML is fairly good at making these predictions,” Narayanan said. “For example, you can train a model to perform oxygen saturation. A variety of patterns, including variations, are used to determine whether a user’s status is normal or abnormal.
So long as the model is well-made, it will be able to predict an outcome with a high degree of accuracy. However, according to Narayanan, a smartphone-based SpO2 tool is unlikely to replace actual medical instruments in the near future.
“With today’s technology, we can’t replace a medical equipment with an app; that jump will have to wait years and years. “However, you can get a reading nearly instantaneously without that instrument today, with a margin of error that is comparable to that of a medical-grade device,” he explains. “The goal is for everyone to be able to accurately measure their oxygen levels.”
Pulse oximeters have long been a useful tool in respiratory health surveillance and are among the must-haves for at-home COVID-19 monitoring. The amount of oxygen carried by our red blood cells is measured in blood oxygen, a function that is tightly regulated by the body.
Normal functioning requires a balance of oxygen-saturated and deoxygenated blood, although most individuals – adults and children – don’t need to monitor it on a regular basis. Doctors may not assess SpO2 until you have symptoms of respiratory distress, such as shortness of breath or chest pain.
Blood oxygen levels, however, can be an important sign of health for persons with chronic health disorders such asthma, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as COVID-19. It can even assist with treatment decisions such as which method to use and whether the dose should be increased.
Hypoxemia, or a lower-than-normal blood oxygen level, is a common cause for concern. The more severe the hypoxemia, and the greater the risk of catastrophic repercussions to essential organs and overall health, the lower a person’s oxygen level is.
For the time being, the purpose of apps like MFine’s is to raise user awareness about their own health – to make it easier for individuals to monitor medical issues that require a gadget to track what’s going on within the body. The Pulse SpO2 tool is part of a rising movement to democratize healthcare by providing on-demand access to sensors and software that would otherwise be out of reach.
In the long run, MFine intends to expand its telehealth products and turn the smartphone into a tool for managing a variety of diagnostics and vitals monitoring. The smartphone is clearly becoming a multifunctional tool as more people have access to mobile phones and internet service. Could it be your vitals’ new “examination tool”?
According to Narayanan, it’s just a matter of ‘when.’ The abundance of data it could provide doctors, researchers, and citizens could be a significant push in the COVID-19 period and beyond, where healthcare literacy and understanding about how daily choices affect health could soar to new heights.
Blood oxygen levels can’t be accurately measured with apps.
One of the best ways to monitor COVID-19 patients is to watch their blood oxygen levels, which can reveal when they have dangerous breathing problems even if they don’t feel short of breath, according to doctors. But, like toilet paper and digital thermometers, pulse oximeters, which monitor these levels, are hard to come by. They’re either sold out or shipping from large retailers takes weeks.
People are turning to dubious alternatives now that the devices are out of reach: this week, the third most popular paid iPhone app claimed to be able to test blood oxygen levels using the phone’s camera, despite a disclaimer saying the app is not a medical instrument. Various folks combating COVID-19 on Reddit say they’re checking their oxygen levels with a health function on some Samsung phone models. Others claim to be using smartwatches with pulse oximetry functions.
Doctors are concerned about this. Despite their accessibility, studies reveal that pulse oximetry applications do not accurately monitor blood oxygen levels, particularly when they are low. And, according to Walter Schrading, director of the office of wilderness medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, relying on applications could be perilous.
When you’re not sick, the applications are simple party tricks: put your finger on the camera, receive a normal oxygen reading. He says, “You can see, I’m a normal human being, inhaling normal air.” When someone has low oxygen levels, however, they are more likely to give a normal reading. “They don’t perform well when you really need them to,” Schrading says, referring to when your oxygen levels decrease.
In a study published in 2019, Schrading and colleagues looked examined three iPhone pulse oximetry apps and discovered that they couldn’t accurately detect persons who didn’t have enough oxygen. Their findings were in line with those of earlier studies that found pulse oximetry applications to be erroneous. A recent evaluation of the research on apps in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine indicated that they are unreliable.
The authors of the study wrote, “Oxygen saturation levels obtained from such technology should not be trusted.”
Because most apps utilize a different mechanism to test blood oxygen levels than typical medical pulse oximetry sensors, they don’t operate properly. The gadgets send two wavelengths of light — commonly red and infrared — via a fingertip, which has a lot of blood near the skin’s surface. When hemoglobin, the protein that transports oxygen in the blood, absorbs more infrared light and more red light when it isn’t. The device determines how much oxygen is circulating by calculating the difference.
Because most smartphones only have white light, they can’t get as accurate a reading. According to the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Samsung phones offer a red light option, however it only uses one wavelength and is likely unreliable.
Furthermore, traditional pulse oximetry devices deliver light wavelengths through the finger and detect the data from a sensor on the other end. Smartphones send and receive light from the same location, relying on wavelength reflection. This method is less reliable, and light from the environment can bias the results.
Fitbit and Garmin smartwatches include pulse oximetry capabilities in some models. Garmin can provide on-the-spot readings, while Fitbit can track oxygen level trends during sleep. Although their watches employ red light, they do it in a less precise reflecting fashion. Blood flow at the wrist, which isn’t as powerful as it is at the finger, is also measured.
On their websites, both firms state that their products should not be utilized for medical purposes.
When it comes to monitoring any condition, accurate blood oxygen levels are crucial, but it’s especially vital for COVID-19. A person with a low blood oxygen level usually recognizes it because they have trouble catching their breath. In an email to Foci-Photography, James Hudspeth, the COVID response inpatient floor head at Boston Medical Center, said that if a person has a reading on a lower-quality oximeter that suggests they have low oxygen levels but no symptoms, clinicians can usually presume the sensor isn’t working.
COVID-19 patients, on the other hand, may feel well even when their oxygen levels are low. That’s why some doctors are advocating for the distribution of pulse oximeters to everyone who is sick with the virus at home: if they can get to the hospital as soon as their oxygen levels drop but before they start gasping for air, they may be treated more efficiently. However, Hudspeth believes that clinicians will be less confident in interpreting a pulse oximeter result that does not match symptoms.
If applications can’t determine when oxygen levels are genuinely low, they may give those who think they’re fine a false sense of security. “You could read normal on this device, but you couldn’t be normal,” Schrading explains. He believes it is a significant risk. “Relying on them would be risky because they didn’t measure what they were supposed to measure.”
Not Reliable App for Measuring Oxygen Levels Using Phone Camera
According to a study, there is no proof that smartphone technology can accurately measure oxygen levels.
According to a viral WhatsApp post, an app called Pedometer 2018 can measure oxygen levels and heart rate simply by placing the finger on the phone’s rear camera.
Dr Vikas Maurya, director and head, department of Pulmonology & Sleep Disorders, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, told Foci-Photography that while the technology used in an oximeter can be incorporated in any smartphone, an app alone cannot monitor oxygen levels if the phone does not have the requisite technology. The software in question has also been removed from the Google Play Store.
COVID-19 with pulse oximetry
Pulse oximetry is a blood test that determines the amount of oxygen in the blood. Many people think about oxygen levels.
A vital indicator of how well a person’s body is performing, similar to blood pressure or body temperature.
Temperature. Even when they are well, many persons with COVID-19 disease have low oxygen levels in their blood.
They are in good health. Low oxygen levels might be a warning sign that someone requires medical attention.
What is a pulse oximeter and how does it work?
A pulse oximeter is a small device that attaches to a person’s finger and emits a red light.
Through the tip of the finger the amount of light that enters the body is used to determine the oxygen level or oxygen saturation of the blood.
As it goes through the fingertip, it is absorbed. The percentage of oxygen in your blood is measured with a pulse oximeter.
Saturation. This percentage can be detected on an oximeter’s “SpO2” setting.
Levels of oxygen
In most cases, a typical amount of oxygen is at least 95% or greater. Some people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or
Normal levels of sleep apnea can be as high as 90%. A pulse oximeter’s SpO2 value indicates the amount of oxygen in the blood.
The proportion of oxygen in a person’s blood
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes severe COVID-19 sickness in people as:
On room air at sea level, more than 30 breaths per minute and a SpO2 measurement less than 94 percent
(Or a drop of more than 3% from a baseline measurement in patients with persistent hypoxemia, a lack of oxygen in the blood, particularly in the arteries). SARS-CoV-2 Illness Severity Criteria (CDC)
People with darker skin may have less accurate pulse oximetry results. Their oxygen levels are depleted.
They are occasionally reported to be higher than they are. When making a decision, keep this possibility in mind.
Interpreting the outcomes of pulse oximetry
If a person feels short of breath, breathes faster than normal, or feels dizzy, their oxygen levels may be low.
Even though a pulse oximeter shows that their oxygen levels are normal, they are too unwell to undertake their routine daily activities.
If people experience these symptoms, they should contact a doctor or another health care practitioner straight away.
A person’s initial SpO2 reading should be used as a baseline. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a medical practitioner.
If the person is in a long-term care institution, or if the SpO2 measurements are below the baseline
Or has been assessed by a clinician for COVID-19-related problems in the past. Supplemental
COVID AND PULSE OXIMETRY
Other therapies, such as oxygen, may be required. In general, people should seek medical help if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms.
They have difficulty breathing if their SpO2 level is less than 95%.
Refer a long-term care home resident with COVID-19 whose SpO2 value is below baseline.
Person for additional assessment and treatment options
Shortness of breath or a SpO2 of less than 80% should be reported to a health care provider by others.
95% of the time.
What is the best way to determine oxygen saturation?
Cleaning and disinfecting pulse oximeters should be done according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make certain to disinfect the area.
Before and after each usage, wipe the unit with an antiviral wipe. Use the power button to turn the machine on. If this occurs,
Check the batteries if it does not turn on. Wait for the numbers to appear after placing the unit on a finger. Furthermore,
In addition to SpO2, the machine may show heart rate and pulse waveform. This is beneficial because
When pulse waves are clearer, better measurements may be taken.
Can Phone Camera Measure Spo2? technology allows this to happen efficiently in the near future.
The following are some factors that can make it difficult for the unit to obtain accurate readings:
- Skin that is darker in hue
- Nail polish in a dark color
- Poor circulation or cold fingers
- Movement or tremor
- Putting too much pressure on the probe is a bad idea.
- Blood pressure that is too low