Developed by scientists Drs. Mark Ansermino, Guy Dumont and Peter von Dadelszen of the University of British Columbia, the device measures blood oxygen levels through a light sensor attached to a person's fingertip. This technique is known as pulse oximetry.
The Phone Oximeter can accurately predict roughly 80% of cases of pregnant women at risk of life-threatening complications due to high blood pressure. The condition, pre-eclampsia, is one of three leading causes of maternal mortality. Each year, about 76,000 of an estimated 10 million pregnant women worldwide who develop pre-eclampsia die from it and related complications. The number of fetus and infant deaths due to these disorders is estimated at more than 500,000.
The app and medical sensor turns a non-specialist, community-level health worker's smartphone, tablet computer or laptop into an affordable and simple but sophisticated medical-grade diagnostic tool typically available in the developing world only in some hospitals.