Researchers at the University of Toronto figured out a way to accurately measure blood pressure with your phone’s selfies camera by developing a technology known as transdermal optical imaging (TOI).
Optical sensors on smartphones can capture red light reflected from hemoglobin under our skin, which permits TOI to visualize and measure blood flow changes.
By capitalizing on the translucent nature of facial skin, researchers were able to measure the blood pressure of 1,328 Canadian and Chinese adults by capturing two-minute videos of their faces on an iPhone.
“From the video captured by the technology, you can see how the blood flows in different parts of the face and through this ebb and flow of blood in the face, you can get a lot of information,” said Kang Lee, the lead author of the study.
Lee said that more research is needed to make sure that the selfies measurements are as accurate as possible, explaining, for example, that the study did not test people with very dark or very fair skin.
“In order to improve our app to make it usable, particularly for people with hypertension, we need to collect a lot of data from them, which is very, very hard because a lot of them are already taking medicine,” Lee explained.
The scientists said there are many potential applications for the technology, including providing health services for those who reside in remote, rural areas.