A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester revealed that web cameras and software algorithms can help cardiologists diagnose patients with atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart condition that often goes undetected.
The researchers used a web camera that scans the face and an algorithm to detect changes in skin color that are imperceptible to the naked eye. These changes, researchers say, can be used to detect uneven blood flow caused by atrial fibrillation. The cameras used sensors that record three colors: red, green, and blue. When a component of blood reflected green light, it more often than not, meant atrial fibrillation.
The prove this, the researchers simultaneously hooked up the participants to an electrocardiogram (ECG). The color changes detected by video monitoring typically corresponded with an individual's heart rate as detected on an ECG. The researchers found there was an error rate of 20 percent, comparable to the 17 to 29 percent error rate associated with automated ECG measurements.
Because the study was only done with 11 participants and just for technological feasibility purposes, the researchers are looking to use it with a larger population. The researchers dubbed the technique "videoplethymography."
"This technology holds the potential to identify and diagnosis cardiac disease using contactless video monitoring," stated Jean-Philippe Couderc, Ph.D., with the University of Rochester's Heart Research Follow-up Program. "This is a very simple concept, but one that could enable more people with atrial fibrillation to get the care the care they need."
The University of Rochester worked with Xerox to develop the technology.