Distant pulse oximetry based on skin region extraction and multi-spectral measurement
Capturing vital signs, specifically heart rate and oxygen saturation, is essential in care situations. Clinical pulse oximetry solutions work contact-based by clips or otherwise fixed sensor units which have sometimes undesired impact on the patient. A typical example would be pre-term infants in neonatal care which require permanent monitoring and have a very fragile skin. This requires a regular change of the sensor unit location by the staff to avoid skin damage. To improve patient comfort and to reduce care effort, a feasibility study with a camera-based passive optical method for contactless pulse oximetry from a distance is performed. In contrast to most existing research on contactless pulse oximetry, a taskoptimized multi-spectral sensor unit instead of a standard RGB-camera is proposed. This first allows to avoid the widely used green spectral range for distant heart rate measurement, which is unsuitable for pulse oximetry due to nearly equal spectral extinction coefficients of saturated oxy-hemoglobin and non-saturated hemoglobin. Second, it also better addresses the challenge of the worse signal-to-noise ratio than in the contact-based or active measurement, e.g., caused by background illumination. Signal noise from background illumination is addressed in several ways. The key part is an automated reference measurement of background illumination by automated patient localization in the acquired images by extraction of skin and background regions with a CNN-based detector. Due to the custom spectral ranges, the detector is trained and optimized for this specific setup. Altogether, allowing a contactless measurement, the studied concept promises to improve the care of patients where skin contact has negative effects.