Researchers Find a Way to Measure Blood Pressure with a Selfie

Being able to measure blood pressure with a selfie video sounds like science fiction—but research done in China and Canada shows that it is possible.

The Study

At the University of Toronto, Kang Lee, a developmental psychologist, and postdoctoral researcher Paul Zheng developed a way to measure blood pressure using the light captured from a smart phone camera.

They accomplished this through what they call transdermal optical imaging (TOI). Here’s how it works: You have a protein your blood called hemoglobin, which reflects red light. And your skin is is very translucent. Optical sensors in a smart phone camera are able to capture this light to measure changes in blood flow.

Lee and Zheng put their product to the test. 1,328 adults participated in the study. Each took a two-minute selfie video using an iPhone. The videos were then analyzed using TOI.

They compared their results with standard methods for measuring blood pressure. The selfie videos achieved 95% accuracy.

The App and Its Future

Lee went forward with the results and co-founded Nuralogix, which developed an app called Anura. Using TOI, Anura is able to measure resting heart rate and stress level from a 30-second selfie video.

The app also protects your privacy by only uploading the data, not the selfie video.

Nuralogix plans to release another version of the app in China that provides blood pressure measurement. Lee also hopes to be able to include other measurements in the future, including hemoglobin, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels.

The app, though brilliant, has its limitations. Results tend to be less accurate for those with darker skin because of how the app gathers data. Hopefully, Nuralogix will be able to move forward and overcome these challenges, reaching all populations.

The Bottom Line

This app is one example of how easy it can be to measure your blood pressure. There are many ways you can learn to measure your blood pressure at home—with our without a cuff. Other products include watches and wristbands that are simple and easy to use.

It’s important to measure your blood pressure frequently because high blood pressure (or hypertension) usually doesn’t have any outward symptoms. It is sometimes called “the silent killer” and can lead to other conditions such as heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.

Anura is a promising app for being able to prevent these health concerns by giving people a simple and accessible way to keep an eye on their health. We are excited to see how this app develops in the future!