University of North Texas professor Ram Dantu has developed a way to measure blood pressure using a smartphone.
Dantu, who works in the department of computer science and engineering, created a small attachment that uses the flat disk of a stethoscope but doesn’t require a blood pressure cuff.
The person places his or her finger over the phone’s camera and the flash to track the pulse and then the person must place the stethoscope diaphragm at his or her heart to read the heart beat.
The diaphragm can be placed over clothing and still take an accurate measurement, Dantu said.
Most people carry their phones with them everywhere and as long as they have the small attachment, they will be able to check their blood pressure anywhere, Dantu said.
He has been researching this technology for two years. He’s used the device to measure the blood pressure of men and woman ages 13 to 58.
When Dantu began working on it, he tried using two phones. That was a challenge, he said, because it’s not always easy to find a second phone.
Right now, Dantu is using a phone with an Android-based operating system. The iPhone operating system is a little more difficult to write an application for, he said.
Dantu said the new device offers several advantages, including accuracy, mobility and cost.
He said it reads 20 pulses in 20 seconds, making it more accurate than other self-use devices.
“We believe that the time to measure will be a lot shorter than existing measures,” he said.
This is as good as any invasive technology used during surgeries, Dantu said. And it can be used to continually measure blood pressure just like the invasive technology because the device measures pulse by pulse, he said.
Dantu and other researchers in the UNT Network Security Laboratory are exploring using the new technology in the operating room.
He also hopes to continue to develop the technology to read other vital signs, such as heart and respiratory rates.
Shanti Thiyagaraja, a UNT doctoral student who is working with Dantu, calls it a “cool app.”
She said the hardest part of creating the technology is processing the signals.
“Timing is critical,” Dantu said.
He estimates the cost of the device will run between $5 and $10.
Right now, there is just a prototype and Dantu is looking to make something more sophisticated and get it manufactured for consumer use.
“Anyone can use it,” he said. “Mobility is the No. 1 thing.”
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .