Dog-like robot measures vital signs remotely

Hyperaxion Sep 1, 2020

Developed to help fight Covid-19, Spot measures temperature, breathing and pulse rates and even oxygen saturation in the patient’s blood.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, health care workers are at higher risk of being infected with the new coronavirus.

With that in mind, scientists have developed a four-legged robot capable of measuring vital signs, such as skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and even blood oxygen saturation.

Dog-like robot measures vital signs remotely
Spot. (Credit: MIT News).

The team includes researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

A scientific article about the robot will be published soon, but scientists already say that, in tests, it was able to perform measurements from a distance of 2 meters.

“In robotics, one of our goals is to use automation and robotic technology to remove people from dangerous jobs,” said Henwei Huang, an MIT postdoc. “We thought it should be possible for us to use a robot to remove the health care worker from the risk of directly exposing themselves to the patient.”

The robot, called Spot, was developed by Boston Dynamics and can be controlled remotely. In addition, it contains a tablet, which enables communication between doctor and patient.

Scientists have placed an infrared camera that, thanks to an algorithm, is able to measure a person’s skin temperature and breathing rate.

Spot also has three monochrome cameras, which filter different wavelengths of light, allowing researchers to measure slight color changes that occur when hemoglobin in blood cells binds to oxygen.

(Credit: Henwei Huang / MIT / Brigham and Women’s Hospital).

This information, associated with the researchers’ algorithm, allows the detection of pulse rate and oxygen saturation in the blood.

As Huang explained, they did not have to develop any new technology: “What we did is integrate them together very specifically for the Covid application, to analyze different vital signs at the same time,” Huang concluded.

If you are interested, a preprint version of the article is available at TechRxiv.

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