Technology

A contactless robotic platform to monitor patient's vital signs

A contactless robotic platform to monitor patient's vital signs.   | Photo Credit: Boston Dynamics

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A robotic platform has been developed for contactless monitoring of vital signs of suspected COVID-19 patients by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with Boston Dynamics, and other medical institutes.

The mobile platform uses Boston Dynamics’ four-legged Spot robot, equipped with a contactless monitoring system, and a tablet to facilitate one-on-one medical interviews.

“By minimizing unnecessary in-person contact with individuals who may have COVID-19 disease, healthcare workers (HCW) can prevent disease transmission, and conserve personal protective equipment,” the academic paper noted.

The robotic platform – Dr. Spot, is designed to measure skin temperature, respiratory rate (RR), heart rate (HR), and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), simultaneously, and can be operated remotely by trained clinical staff.

(a) Spot carrying an IR camera. (b) Spot carrying iPad for tele-interview. (c) Dr. Spot.

(a) Spot carrying an IR camera. (b) Spot carrying iPad for tele-interview. (c) Dr. Spot.   | Photo Credit: MIT/Boston Dynamics

 

The contactless vital signs monitoring system aboard the Spot robot is called VitalCam. It uses an infrared (IR) and multi-monochrome camera setup, along with specific algorithms to track and obtain the various parameters from an individual.

The three monochrome cameras are equipped with different optical filters with the wavelength of 660 nm, 810 nm, and 880 nm to simultaneously gather RR, HR, SpO2 and skin temperature from an individual patient, paper said.

The research team explains that in order to measure the blood volume changes underneath the facial skin, they used the light absorption characteristics of haemoglobin, which is exhibited at the wavelength between 500-600 nm.

In addition, temperature sensors are used to get a read on the ambient temperature around the camera setup. While a face detection algorithm – InsightFace, continuously detects and tracks facial features through real-time IR imaging.

The robotic system’s agile movement allowed the team to obtain adequate frames of reference from the camera setup by adjusting distance and angle of view to get necessary vital signs from an individual patient.

Handheld controller of the Spot with vital signs measurement results.

Handheld controller of the Spot with vital signs measurement results.   | Photo Credit: MIT

 

The platform offers two interfaces for remote operation, including one with a handheld controller and a touch screen.

Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital were screened by deploying the contactless system, paper said.

“The overall objective was to use Dr. Spot to facilitate acquisition of vital signs and a brief interview in order to reduce exposure of HCWs to patients,” it added.

The research team says, this platform can be deployed and scaled on a mobile robotic system to acquire important biometric data in various care scenarios during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 7:26:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/a-contactless-robotic-platform-to-monitor-patients-vital-signs/article32435205.ece

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