Philips contactless monitoring with video 600x274

Ordinarily on Health Tech Insider, we write about new or emerging technology related to health or medical application that you wear, carry, hold, sometimes ingest, and occasionally have implanted. This is not one of those articles. In fact, the appeal of this technology is that it not only doesn’t touch you, but it can be across a hospital room and still help. The concept is touchless vital sign monitoring and the applications are inspiring.

There are plenty of times when people would rather not be touched or have apparatus attached to their bodies. Infants or young children are an example, as well as some elderly people or others who are adamant about not being hooked up to anything not essential to keep them alive. Premature babies or people with very fragile skin are another group where traditional sensor connections can be a source of damage or distress. If you’ve spent any time in the hospital or even in an emergency room with multiple devices and IV lines attached or hooked up, it can quickly get cumbersome and irritating. For all of those reasons, Philips new camera-based monitoring technology can make monitoring vital signs without touching the patient a helpful addition to the medical arsenal.

The system works with proprietary camera-based monitoring technology that measures the light reflected off the forehead. While you can’t see the changes with the naked eye, skin color changes with every breath. By extension, that single measure, calibrated correctly, can produce accurate readings of arterial blood oxygenation, respiration rate, and heart rate. By focusing the camera on the forehead, the reading can be more accurate than on a limb. Initial applications are expected to be in neonatal intensive care units and then spread to general population wards.