Measure blood pressure with a selfie
An app to prevent diseases using only your smartphone
2020 was the year of the pandemic, but it was also a big year for technology. A year after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the emergency situation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, smart devices have grown to become present in practically every moment of our daily lives. Indeed, to say that portable devices are an essential part of our lives is an understatement: “in less than 10 years, these technological devices have gone from being a simple tool permitting communication between two people to a full-blown extension of ourselves”
Likewise, data analysis tools and artificial intelligence have undergone a revolution during this unusual year. They have served as an almost daily resource for all those responsible citizens whose objective is to stop Covid-19 by changing their lifestyle habits for over an entire year.
Portable technology is capable of monitoring what we eat, recording our heart rate, recording our hours of sleep, increasing our sense of well-being and reducing our stress levels, as well as detecting possible problems that may affect our body. Such devices even provide us with information about our physical and mental state which we might not even be able to detect ourselves.
According to Javier Luque Ordóñez, author of Wearable Devices and Technologies:
“The two best known instances of WDs (Wearable Devices) are found in activity wristbands and smart watches. The applications of the former are more specific and limited than the latter, and are mainly intended to measure various parameters related to the individual’s physical condition: calories burned, sleep patterns, distance traveled, steps taken, heart rate, hours of activity, etc.”
Increasingly, this technology is used as part of a treatment plan for the prevention and detection of chronic or serious disorders, allowing patients to record details about their health and share this information with healthcare personnel. Diabetes and cardiovascular or neuromuscular diseases are some of the examples that we can find in the article “Citizens and e-health,” from the National Telecommunications and Information Society Observatory (ONTSI).
A device for the prevention of atrial fibrillation
One of the diseases that most worries people is atrial fibrillation, perhaps due to the increase in cases in recent years as a consequence of the increase in the aging population.
This disease produces an “alteration of the normal conductivity of the heart (called sinus rhythm), when the atria do not contract properly and the ventricles do so irregularly and excessively fast, preventing the normal functioning of the heart.”
It is detected by monitoring the patient’s pulse via an electrocardiogram (ECG) that shows whether there is atrial fibrillation, by graphically recording the electrical activity of the heart.
Automatic detection via smartwatch
Based on KardiaBand™ and SmartRhythm™ monitoring, AliveCor launched the first Apple Watch Series 4 platform, combining FDA-approved ECG equipment and selected analysis algorithms with artificial intelligence models to help detect atrial fibrillation.
Thanks to this sensor, the device can reveal heart rate and rhythm changes over time, but it cannot replace all of the diagnostic information provided by the ECG. However, it allows you to collect all the data by creating a daily record.
Detection via smartphone
Another technology for monitoring atrial fibrillation is the facial recognition algorithm.
Heart measurements can be read by the phone itself via the built-in selfie camera, without the need to spend more on an additional portable device.
Some companies like Nuralogix have launched their own transdermal optical imaging technique: using your own selfie camera, it can calculate your blood pressure and stress levels thanks to its Anura application.