A mobile application can monitor blood oxygen levels, respiration, and pulse rates using only the smartphone camera. This procedure can be done at home to avoid going to hospitals where it is packed with COVID-19 patients.

Tackling the pandemic has left countries, specifically India, to panic buy medical supplies to ensure their family's safety. But this has also led to an increase in prices in many local pharmacies and stores as they ran out of supplies like oximeters that monitor blood oxygen levels and pulse rates.

There have been many mobile apps with the same function, which all use the same principles of photoplethysmography (PPG) that detects volumetric variations of blood circulation by using a light source.

 Blood Oxygen Levels and Pulse Rate Can Now Be Monitored Using Smartphone Camera
(Photo: Pixabay)
Blood Oxygen Levels and Pulse Rate Can Now Be Monitored Using Smartphone Camera

How to Use Mobile App to Monitor Blood Oxygen Levels and Pulse Rate

In India, the price of a good oximeter has soared to more than $55 (Rs 4,000) from $11 (Rs 800) as the pandemic worsens in the country, in a time when monitoring blood oxygen levels at home has increased significantly, CNBC TV18 reported.

Kolkata-based health start-up CareNow has developed a mobile called CarePlix Vitals that can monitor blood oxygen levels, respiration, and pulse rates. It uses artificial intelligence that helps it give an accurate reading and will save information to the cloud for future reference.

The mobile app uses the phone's flashlight and camera instead of the infrared light that oximeters use to measure blood oxygen levels. The AI helps in determining the strength of the finger placement on the phone.

For a COVID-19 patient, monitoring of blood oxygen levels is crucial. They need to ensure that they have above 95% blood oxygen levels and not below because it would require urgent medical attention.

"The technology behind this is photoplethysmography or PPG. After covering the phone's rear camera and flashlight with the finger the scan starts and it calculates the difference of light intensity. In just 40 seconds, the PPG graph is plotted and the SpO2 and pulse rate is derived," a company official said according to The Indian Express via the CNBC TV18.

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Other Android/iOS Apps that Monitors Blood Oxygen Levels and Pulse Rates

There is a need for oximeters these days but with the little supply and expensive prices, mobile apps that can monitor blood oxygen levels and pulse rates have emerged.

They all use PPG technology, but each one has a distinct feature they offer to consumers. Aside from CarePlix Vitals, there are also Android/iOS mobile apps that are available for download as News18 reported.

One of which is MFine, an Android app that connects users to doctors online and lets them book other medical services, like home testing and medicine delivery.

Another one is the Blood Oxygen app available for iOS users that lets users check breathing patterns via a start/stop functionality.

Third, there is the Pulse Oximeter Tracker that is downloadable from Google Play that simply keeps track of the blood oxygen levels from the oximeter. It does not monitor oxygen levels but only keeps track of the recorded data.

Lastly, the Ezvitals is similar to Pulse Oximeter Tracker that only records data from the oximeter for future references. It can be downloaded from both Google and Apple app stores.

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