With words like pandemic, quarantine, comorbidity, moratorium and social distancing successfully added in almost every Indian’s vocabulary, the start of the second wave of coronavirus pandemic ushered a new word in the dictionary of the general populace and that’s Oximeter. Not only the word oximeter, but its usage has also become so popular in India that even a 12-year-old knows how to use it.
Almost every household in India now has at least one oximeter as a safety measure to check one’s vital signs like Oxygen saturation levels (SpO2) and respiration rates at home in case of emergency. With such skyrocketing demand for the medical device, the prices of the pulse oximeter have been hiked by the manufacturers and can easily cost around Rs. 2,000 these days.
Such a huge jump in the usage of oximeters led to a mismatch in the demand and supply of the device in the market. Not only there is an unavailability of oximeters across the country now, but also because of the super-expensive cost of the device many Indians despite needing it are unable to buy it.
Looking at the situation and the need for people to monitor their oxygen levels, pulse and respiration rate at home, a health-tech start-up based out of Kolkata in order to replace oximeters developed a smartphone app that allows users to monitor vitals such as pulse rate and SpO2. The mobile app dubbed as CarePlix Vitals provides users with information related to their heart rate, oxygen saturation and respiration rate within few minutes.
Developed by CareNow Healthcare, the application requires nothing else other than a smartphone and an internet connection to operate. The app claims to use the principles of photoplethysmography or PPG that allows detecting volumetric variations of blood circulation by using a light source. Unlike oximeters, the app uses the phone’s flashlight instead of infrared light in an oximeter.
In order to understand the functioning of the app, I myself tried using the application to know how actually the app works and whether it matches the accuracy of the oximeter or not.
After downloading CarePlix Vitals from the Play Store, I registered myself using basic details such as Email Id, name, and date of birth. After registering myself, I open the app and clicked the record vitals option that is clearly visible on the screen as soon as the app opens up.
On clicking the option, the app itself provides you with three points on how to scan your finger in order to get more accurate readings.
- Place your index finger on the rear camera of your mobile phone.
- Cover the camera and flash light.
- Don’t move your finger, click on start and wait till the vitals are captured.
Honestly, while I started scanning following the above steps, the app took around 40-50 seconds to detect my index finger. Therefore, while using the app you have to necessarily wait for 40 seconds each time before you start to see readings on the screen. In order to confirm that the app takes few seconds to start, I tried doing the process about 5-6 times and every time, I had to wait for a minimum required second.
The app also allows the users to save scans from each test which can be later used for ‘vitals analytics’. I even compared the app results with an oximeter bought from a local medical store and while comparing the two I can only say that the app showed fairly accurate results during each test. I would definitely give this app a big thumps up and would suggest its use.
This app is surely going to be helpful for those who are unable to use an oximeter either because of its unavailability or because of its heavy pricing. You can trustfully use this app to check your oxygen levels, heart and respiration rate at zero cost.
*The app is available for both Android and iOS users.