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Techies from Kolkata launch app to monitor oxygen saturation, pulse rate from your phone

A new smartphone app enables users to monitor their oxygen saturation levels and pulse rates with high accuracy using just the smartphone camera and flashlight.

CarePlix Vitals (Image: India Today) CarePlix Vitals (Image: India Today)
Story highlights
  • The new app has been developed by CareNow Healthcare, a health-tech startup based out of Kolkata.
  • It requires users to cover the rear camera and flashlight with their fingers for a scan.
  • Calculating the difference of light intensity passing through the finger, the app plots a PPG graph to monitor the vitals.

The need to check one's vital signs like Oxygen saturation levels and respiration rates has gained utmost importance since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. This has further skyrocketed the demand for devices like oximeters that enable such monitoring. A consequent lack of supply now plagues the market, and technological innovations might be the only ones to our rescue.

Case in point, a new smartphone app developed by a health-tech startup based out of Kolkata. Called CarePlix Vital's, the new app uses your smartphone's rear camera and flashlight to monitor Oxygen saturation (SpO2), pulse and respiration rates within seconds.

Developed by CareNow Healthcare, the application requires nothing else other than a smartphone and an internet connection to operate. It is currently a registration based application available on Apple App Store. It takes around 40 seconds to display the readings of the aforementioned vitals. These readings can further be saved on the cloud for record-keeping.

In essence, the application works similar to an oximeter or a smartwatch and makes use of the same underlying technology - photoplethysmography or PPG. The difference is that the work of infrared light sensors on wearables and oximeters is replaced by the flashlight in this case.

The app requires users to cover the rear camera and flashlight with their fingers for the scan. For the next 40 seconds, the app calculates the difference of light intensity passing through the finger and a PPG graph is plotted based on this difference. From this graph, SpO2 and pulse rate is further determined.

The application is equipped with an AI to determine the strength of finger placement. Better placement of the fingers leads to more accurate readings.

As reported in an interaction with Indian Express, the team got the idea for the app from the known fact of cardiovascular deaths in the country. Work on the mobile application began early last year, and phase one for it was completed by December 2020.

The team also conducted a clinical trial in Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial Hospital Kolkata with 1200 individuals earlier in 2021. The trials were mainly conducted in the OPD. In comparisons made to test the accuracy of the application, it was found that CarePlix Vital was 96 per cent accurate with heartbeats and 98 per cent accurate with oxygen saturation levels.