Our founder, Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Chairman of Engineering at Oxford University, had a dream.
What if a doctor in Africa could download an app onto their smart phone that would use the phone’s own camera to read human vital signs just as accurately as the wired medical devices in the Intensive Care Unit at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital? How many babies might that save?
Turning digital cameras into medical devices
Today, we are working to do just that. Our software algorithms already enable normal digital cameras (say, a 2 megapixel webcam) to report heart rate, breathing rate and human movement as accurately as a wired medical device.
This contact-free vital sign monitoring works from a distance of several metres and in a variety of conditions, even in darkness or when subjects are hiding under bedding.
Focusing on one major market opportunity at a time
We were initially researching medical applications and incorporating vital signs into baby monitors. These are still very important to us.
But, right now, we are focused on delivering software to secure rooms (Police, Mental Health Institutions and Prisons), where our software can alert custodians to risks to the health of their detainees or patients.
We pivoted. A SMART grant from Innovate UK funded pioneering work at Broadmoor psychiatric hospital which proved the value of our technology in that setting. The strong proof of concept there has led to a successful trial with a major UK police force, and interest from other mental health trusts, prisons and international buyers.
We continue to broaden and deepen our technology
But Oxecam can do more than heart rate and breathing rate. We are also working on blood oxygenation, temperature and other human health indications – all medical grade and all from a digital camera. Again, Innovate UK is providing important assistance by part funding our Digital Health in the Connected Hospital project, back at the John Radcliffe in Oxford, where it all started.
Long road but a promising start
Saving an African baby’s life with vital signs from a smartphone is not yet possible. But, we are now deploying systems across the UK, receiving interest from all over the world and have a strong pipeline of profound innovations which will deliver entirely new medical capabilities in the coming years. So we are optimistic we will be able to deliver on that dream of Vital Care – Everywhere.
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