Phone Oximeter™


The Phone OximeterTM

Intuitive, Affordable & Accessible

The Phone Oximeter™ leverages the global ubiquity of mobile phones to provide non-invasive measurements of blood oxygen levels with a light sensor attached to a patient’s finger. Initially prototyped in 2010 by the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital, the Phone Oximeter™ is robust, portable and powered by the mobile device. It includes an intuitive symbols-based display and makes pulse oximetry easy, affordable and accessible to use.

The Phone Oximeter™ is an ultra-low cost monitoring device that guides front-line healthcare workers to quickly and accurately manage a wide range of clinical conditions. The hardware and software are hosted on standard mobile devices and will rapidly assess (spot-check) oxygen saturation and guide diagnosis and management of disease. Most importantly, the novel Vital Signs DSP™ audio interface provides for a cost effective, highly scalable solution that functions across all mobile device platforms supporting broad clinical and consumer markets.

Pulse Oximetry Overview:

KampalaPulse oximetry is a diagnostic method that measures the proportion of oxygen carrying molecules in the blood (called hemoglobin) that are actually carrying oxygen. This is known as oxygen saturation or Sp02. A conventional pulse oximeter sensor shines two light beams of different wavelengths (red and infrared) through the blood that is circulating in the small blood vessels of the finger, and then detects the amount of light that is able to pass through the extremity. Hemoglobin carrying oxygen (red blood) absorbs more infrared light and allows more red light to pass than hemoglobin without oxygen (blue blood) which allows more infrared light to pass. The oxygen saturation is expressed as a percentage of hemoglobin that has oxygen attached to it. One hundred percent oxygen saturation is attained when all the hemoglobin in the blood is completely saturated with oxygen.

This is particularly important for detecting hypoxemia, a condition in which the arterial blood is not sufficiently oxygenated. Early detection of hypoxemia can prevent significant clinical complications and death. A compromised ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen is associated with many infectious and inflammatory diseases or with airway management problems during anesthesia. Early detection of low oxygen saturation allows for timely referral and early administration of simple, life-saving treatments before overt clinical deterioration.

Since its introduction into operating rooms in the 1980s, pulse oximetry is routinely used to monitor patients who are under anesthesia during surgery. Its use has spread throughout the hospital so that any patient with unstable oxygen levels may be monitored; for example, in the intensive care unit, the emergency department or on the ward. Pulse oximetry can also be used at home by patients with respiratory disorders.

While anesthesia care can be greatly improved with pulse oximetry, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, such as pneumonia, pre-eclampsia and sepsis, using pulse oximetry promises to have a profound impact on some of the most lethal global diseases. Pneumonia kills more than 2 million children under the age of five every year, and nearly all of these deaths occur in developing countries. Pre-eclampsia during pregnancy is the second leading cause of maternal deaths (76,000 annually) and causes a further 500,000 infant deaths, almost all in resource limited regions. Again, this is an opportunity for pulse oximetry to play a key role in early diagnosis and treatment.

Chronic and acute respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), affects millions of people globally and causes 2.7 million deaths a year. Accessible and affordable blood oxygen monitoring systems for home use will support enhanced diagnosis and treatment.

The Phone Oximeter™ is not currently available for sale.