Saturday, 21 November 2020 07:37

UniSA develops tech to measure key COVID-19 symptom remotely

UniSA develops tech to measure key COVID-19 symptom remotely Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay

Oxygen saturation, a key symptom of COVID-19, is now being estimated using a remote camera after researchers at the University of South Australia developed AI health monitoring software that could carry out this function.

A statement from UniSA said the software. developed by Professor Javaan Chahl, Dr Ali Al-Naji and their team this year and licensed to North American drone company Draganfly, could also detect temperature, heart and breathing rates from drones and fixed cameras.

The university said technology built during the project was being used in the US to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and ensure social distancing in many places.

It said the contactless sensing tech took only 15 seconds to measure heart and breathing rate and blood oxygen levels from a webcam video of a human face. Temperature was measured using a thermal camera.

The blood oxygen level, known as SpO2, shows how well the lungs absorb blood and and the circulatory system transports oxygenated blood.

"An individual's SpO2 level is usually measured using connected sensors that project light through a finger or earlobe and, until now, there has been no real means to make a non-contact assessment," said Prof Chahl.

"In this pandemic, a low SpO2 level has risen to prominence as an important symptom of individuals with COVID-19.

"The blood oxygen gauge our team has developed for Draganfly's Vital Intelligence project shows the enormous potential of streaming video for remote detection of many health conditions, not just COVID-19."

Draganfly chief executive Cameron Chell claimed the technology developed by UniSA researchers was unique.

"There is nothing else like it out there in the commercial marketplace that has the science behind it," he said.

"It is third-party reviewed, clinically researched, university built and designed technology. It is a game-changer in telehealth and overall health security in our society."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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