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This new technology can let smartphone detect blood pressure through a short selfie video

A study led by University of Toronto developmental psychologist Kang Lee found that blood pressure can be measured accurately by taking and analysing a quick video selfie. (Image source: Nuralogix)

Scientists have developed a new technology that can turn your smartphone into a blood pressure monitoring device by just analysing a short video of your face. The new technology which is called transdermal optical imaging has been developed by a team of researchers based at the University of Toronto in Canada and the Hangzhou Normal University in China.

A study which was led by the University of Toronto developmental psychologist Kang Lee and his postdoctoral researcher Paul Zheng got recently published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging. The study found that blood pressure can be measured accurately by taking and analysing a quick video selfie.

As per the study, this innovative feature works by accounting the fact the human’s facial skin is translucent in nature. The optical sensors of the smartphones can easily capture red light that is reflected from the hemoglobin of our blood under the skin, this makes the transdermal optical imaging to visualise and measure the changes in our blood flow.

"From the video captured by the technology, you can see how the blood flows in different parts of the face and through this ebb and flow of blood in the face, you can get a lot of information," Lee said in a statement.

The researchers have used this new technology to analyse two-minute videos of the faces of 1,328 Canadian and Chinese adults that were captured with the help of an iPhone. The results were then compared with standard methods of determining blood pressure and they were able to measure three types of blood pressure with 95-96 per cent accuracy.

Lee has also co-founded a startup called Nuralogix, that has released an app called Anura. The app provides the users with the measurements of their resting heart rate and stress level when they record a 30-second selfie video. The startup firm is planning to launch a new version of the app in China in the coming fall season which will add blood pressure measurements as well.

Regarding the privacy of the app, Lee says that the app only uploads the result of its analysis to the cloud and not the selfie video. He also said that there needs to be extra research done to make the technology more accurate. In the recent study, only people with regular or slightly higher blood pressure were measured. The sample also did not have people with very dark or very fair skin.

Lee’s startup firm also plans to monetise this technology by offering access to more detailed health data for a monthly fee. The research team also hopes to track other health attributes including blood glucose levels, hemoglobin and cholesterol.