Monthly Archive for December, 2010

The Cardiocam: Physiological Monitoring via Webcam

Today’s New York Times Magazine The Year in Ideas: 10th Anniversary Special features the MIT Cardiocam:

Cardiocam is a low-cost, non-contact technology for measurement of physiological signals using a basic digital imaging device such as a Webcam. The ability to perform remote measurements of vital signs is promising for enhancing the delivery of primary health care.

Medgadget covered this in October: MIT Student Uses Webcam to Measure Heart Rate From a Distance includes a video that shows how the Cardiocam is used to create a “medical mirror” for home health monitoring.

A link to a PDF (here) has a full description of the research, including their Cardiac pulse recovery methodology:

The method uses Blind Source (Signal) Separation (BSS) by Independent Component Analysis (ICA) of the changes in the video signal:

Volumetric changes in the facial blood vessels during the cardiac cycle modify the path length of the incident ambient light such that the subsequent changes in amount of reflected light indicate the timing of cardiovascular events.

Very cool.

Hacking Your Own Health Data

The MassDevice article Doctors to patients: Track your own health data has an interesting take on the  personally controlled healthcare record (PCHR).

Keely Wray advocates that PCHR data should be “Hackable” (my highlight):

I mean “hackable” in the sense of the word that is quickly growing in popularity: allow owners of a product to manipulate, re-purpose or add to the functionality of a product to serve their own personal needs.

Ms. Wray asks:

Doesn’t it make sense to allow patients to put the technologies together in a way that meets their needs?

Their own needs? Maybe yes, but probably not.

The biggest incentive for innovation will be where someone sees an opportunity to meet a lot of other people’s needs. This may well be for group that shares a common problem or aliment with the technologist(s).  The initial intent may be altruistic, but real growth will only take place when a market emerges.  This is the reality that could lead to significant new health data management solutions.

For example, PatientsLikeMe started off this way (from the About Us page):

Our personal experiences with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) inspired us to create a community of patients, doctors, and organizations that inspires, informs, and empowers individuals.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

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