Blood Pressure Detection Through Selfies?

In what may come as a godsend to those suffering from hypertension and are tired of sticking themselves with needles, researchers in Canada and China announced that they are developing technology that can utilize selfies to test blood pressure. The premise is based using a short video of a user’s face to gauge the user’s blood pressure. Early tests with the software show promise as the results it offers have a high degree of accuracy at its latest iteration.

The technology is being developed by a joint team comprising of members from the University of Toronto and the Affiliated Hospital of Hangzhou Normal University. The lead author of the paper describing the new development states that the use of light rays from a camera has the potential for revealing the blood pressure of a patient. In testing, the camera-based application managed to derive the correct blood pressure readings around 95% of the time.

According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure is responsible for about 1.5 million deaths per year in Southeast Asia. In the poorer rural districts of the region, getting a blood test is difficult because of how far away centers are and how expensive they are to pay for. The hope is that this technology may benefit people who may have high blood pressure but are unable to afford the test to confirm the diagnosis.

Not Yet Ready for Market

While the technology seems to be stable, the testing methodology used only Asian and Caucasian subjects. As with most recognition software involving skin colors, the system may need to be trained differently for darker shades of skin. The research team has acknowledged the shortcoming and claim to be working on methodologies that incorporate a broader spectrum of skin color palates for verification of results.