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Technological advancements are making many things possible. For example, it now appears that your smartphone camera could soon do more than take pictures. A new study from the University of Washington has indicated that a phone camera could soon measure blood oxygen by just placing a finger on the camera lens and flashing. 

Smartphone camera to help measure blood oxygen levels using a recorded video 

According to the research, AI can decipher blood oxygen levels using flow patterns from the recorded video. By using the technique, people can detect warning indicators of potentially harmful reductions in oxygen levels and anticipate asthma episodes before they happen. A person’s body requires “oxygen Saturation” at a 95% rate. Sometimes the rate can fall below 90% requiring individuals to use oxygen masks or inhalation tubes. 

Interestingly the study found that the technology was 80% accurate after researchers employed a chemical cocktail to lower levels in young volunteers. Co-lead authors Jason Hoffman said that there are smartphone apps developed to measure blood oxygen levels, but they involve holding one’s breath. However, individuals become uncomfortable because they can’t hold their breath for more than a minute and breathe before blood-oxygen levels go down to give clinically relevant findings. 

The test enables one to measure their blood-oxygen level in 15 minutes 

Hoffman says that with their test, they collected data within 15 minutes from each subject. He explains that the data indicates that smartphones will work well in the critical threshold range. According to the team, a smartphone will be an effective way of monitoring blood-oxygen levels. 

UW School of Medicine’s family medicine, Prof Dr Matthew Thompson, said that it would make it easier for people to have measurements with their device at no extra cost. In addition, the information can be transmitted to the doctor. It could be instrumental in telemedicine appointments or triages to enable nurses to determine if the patient needs to be sent to the ER or if they can continue restoring at home and arrange an appointment with a healthcare provider later.