Youtube: University of Michigan Engineering

Touchless Covid-19 screening technology

CAPE TOWN – The University of Michigan has lead a collaborative effort with the recent development of touchless technology used to screen for Covid-19.

The technology assists in helping measure respiratory rate, heart rate and heart rate variability to detect respiratory illnesses before an individual feels any symptoms.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, researchers and scientists continue looking at new ways to identify Covid-19 statuses more efficiently and safer helping reduce transmission and allowing earlier treatment.

Mohammed Islam, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science and research lead, said, “Respiratory rate is not typically monitored due to lack of easy technology but it is often the first sign of deterioration as the body attempts to maintain oxygen delivery to the tissues.”

The team developed a software that can be used in various devices with a ‘time-of-flight’ camera which is found in the latest flagship smartphones from Apple, Samsung and LG which makes use of a near-infrared sensor with a laser to determine the distance between the camera and subject.

“We’re using the very latest technology that is becoming available on smart phones to provide more accurate monitoring of overall health, while protecting caregivers and others tasked with taking health readings from highly infectious diseases,” said Islam.

The studies used the time-of-flight camera to detect blood flow in the upper portion the face for heart rates and used to detect the motion of the upper part of the chest for the respiratory rate with the results nearly identical to high-end oximeters that are placed on the finger.

The device records a 24 second video of the face and chest of an individual then artificial intelligence and machine learning process the data to provide the physiological parameters.

As each individual has a unique heart rate and respiratory rate, Islam suggests that a baseline needs to be established and can be done easily on new technology such as smartphone and fitness wearable but in the meanwhile, the new medical device awaits approval from United State’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and could provide a new way of contactless monitoring in hospitals soon.

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