New software turns mobile-phone accessory into breathing monitor

phys.org | 9/13/2017 | Staff
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Researchers have developed new software that makes it possible to use low-cost, thermal cameras attached to mobile phones to track how fast a person is breathing. This type of mobile thermal imaging could be used for monitoring breathing problems in elderly people living alone, people suspected of having sleep apnea or babies at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Biomedical Optics Express, the researchers report that their new software combined with a low-cost thermal camera performed well when analyzing breathing rate during tests simulating real-world movement and temperature changes.

Cameras - Phones - Computers - Reality - Devices

"As thermal cameras continue to get smaller and less expensive, we expect that phones, computers and augmented reality devices will one day incorporate thermal cameras that can be used for various applications," said Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze from University College London, (UK) and leader of the research team. "By using low-cost thermal cameras, our work is a first step toward bringing thermal imaging into people's everyday lives. This approach can be used in places other sensors might not work or would cause concern."

In addition to detecting breathing problems, the new approach could one day allow the camera on your computer to detect subtle breathing irregularities associated with pain or stress and then send prompts that help you relax and regulate breathing. Although traditional video cameras can be used to track breathing, they don't work well in low-light situations and can cause privacy concerns when used for monitoring in nursing homes, for example.

Cameras - Night - Day - Person - Type

"Thermal cameras can detect breathing at night and during the day without requiring the person to wear any type of sensor," said Youngjun Cho, first author of the paper. "Compared to a traditional video camera, a thermal camera is more private because it is more difficult to identify the person."

Thermal cameras, which use infrared wavelengths to reveal...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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