Brainworks has launched its Medio Smart Health web application that tracks your heart rate using a camera and can help screen for COVID-19 symptoms. The free web app uses AI-enhanced, non-contact measurement of your vital signs to help automate digital health care, said CEO Phillip Alvelda in an interview with VentureBeat.
“Our goal is to make it a zero barrier to entry,” he said. “We made it free to the general public and easily accessible on any device. And so we designed the backend to accommodate any kind of client.”
It uses your computer’s webcam or your smartphone camera to measure tiny movements in your face. From this, it can deduce your heart rate, breath rate, and oxygen level. At the moment, as I’m typing this, my heart rate is 49, my breath rate is 21, and my oxygen level is 99. I’m feeling pretty calm. I installed the web app on my desktop and logged into it. And I’m not wearing any medical devices at all. It’s a very passive state for measuring my vital signs.
Upon installation, you can fill out a quick CDC-approved COVID-19 questionnaire. It asks your temperature, your oxygenation level (which can skip if you don’t have a pulse oximeter), and whether you have lost your sense of taste or smell. It also asks if you have difficulty breathing; if you have a headache or difficulty thinking; if you have muscle aches or chills that cause prolonged shaking; and if you have abdominal troubles such as nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or loss of appetite. The app can then measure your vitals and provide you with a COVID-19 risk assessment. If you’re showing possible symptoms, it’s up to you to decide whether to get a test or seek treatment.
“The goal was to launch with the three measures that were most important for figuring out what your state of health was and then have you fill out the questionnaire,” Alvelda said.
Alvelda has been working on the camera technology for a while, but the COVID-19 questionnaire is new, and it’s why the company has been working hard to get the web app into the market.
“It was just a little bit of a twisty path because our earlier plan was to sell things to hospitals and clinics, and that was utterly disrupted in February-March as COVID kicked up,” Alvelda said. “We had to completely redefine the product for the volume consumer market.”
You can use a mobile phone, computer, or tablet cameras. The idea is to have the video-based ambient biometrics monitoring your status and detecting any variations.
“It works in a webpage so there’s nothing that would prevent you from just having it running in the background while you’re working on your PC,” said Alvelda. “Our goal is to have it be automatic and happening without you having to worry about it and always kind of monitoring and keeping track of your health in a preventive and predictive way, rather than reacting to a crisis.”
The health assessment tracker does not actually diagnose COVID-19 or other conditions, but it enables health care personnel, first responders, and other essential workers, as well as the general public, to run the assessment tool on themselves as often as they like.
You can share records with a doctor. Later this quarter, patients recovering from COVID-19 can use Medio to help decide when they might be well enough to return to work while minimizing the risk of infecting others. Of course, it helps to have other tools on hand, like an oximeter and a good thermometer.
But Medio is the first step in Brainworks’ effort to help people monitor themselves without buying a lot of medical equipment. AI sorts the data collected to assure the accuracy of the information gathered. The combination of the camera sensor and AI can detect and interpret minute changes in skin tone and movement. For example, when a heart beats, a pulse occurs throughout the body, and Medio can detect that variation automatically. The AI tosses out measurements that don’t seem accurate and gives you the numbers it believes are correct.
In the past, such an app might have consumed a lot of battery power. But Alvelda said that’s not really a problem anymore. Over time, Alvelda hopes to add premium features consumers can pay for.
Alvelda founded Brainworks in August 2018. The company is based in Emeryville, California and has about 15 people, including contractors.