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Healthcare

Vital signs camera detects potential health risks early

“When you are just looking at an image [of a baby] when it’s fast asleep and not moving it doesn’t actually tell you that much,” says Jonathan Chevallier, CEO at Oxehealth. “With our technology we can send readings back to the parent showing the heart rate and breathing rate of the baby which can be used to raise an alert if there is some kind of problem.”

Chevallier makes a good point. Most baby monitors only operate on a passive level – giving audio-visual feedback but not much else. This means that potential health risks can be overlooked, whereas with vital signs monitoring, Chevallier says we can pick up on changes in the colour of the skin and track those changes using algorithms.

But in an age where hacking is becoming more common, how safe is it to use this technology? Recently, a nanny was terrified when she heard a voice from a baby monitor advising her to “password protect [her] camera.” Plus, a cybersecurity expert showed how easy it is to hack into video baby monitors all over the UK, even going as far as saying it’s as easy as “however long it takes you to do a Google search.”

Chevallier thinks the main problem lies with users not changing the default passwords that come with the baby monitors. He says “it’s basically like leaving your front door unlocked when anyone can just walk in and get access.” He hopes that hardware manufacturers and suppliers actually force that change so that users cannot use the technology without putting in a new password first.

Can this technology be used in other sectors?

“There’s lot of opportunity in in-vehicle monitoring, such as identifying medical problems before they happen. So in December we had the Glasgow bin lorry accident where the driver seemed to have lost consciousness for some reason that could be heart related. With technology such as ours, it could have monitored what was happening,” Chevallier tells me.

Chevallier explains that machine-learning models are now making it possible to collect a lot of data over a long period of time – giving a great chance to build up a picture of what is normal for a person: “The machine learning models have the intelligence to spot when a series of readings come through that are dramatically different and can spot negative trends and alert us on those.”

In the near future, Chevallier believes that in medical emergencies (like the Glasgow example) vehicles will have the technology to be able to “safely” stop, based on the information it gets about the driver. “Safely” he explains, means “there is the potential the technology might have picked up on something that isn’t a problem so the last thing you want to do is cause an accident as a result of that.”

Chevallier says the vital signs monitoring camera can be useful in psychiatric hospitals to where patients are at a risk of self-harm and could have complications with medications. Some trials have already been running at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital which have proved successful.

He believes this technology is widely applicable: “We anticipate this not only being useful in mental health institutions but also of being of value in police custodies, where people are also at high risk. In prisons every year there are quite a few suicides as well which technology like this could help to reduce.”

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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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