ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED BY THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Containing Covid-19 is challenging because of how easily the coronavirus spreads from person to person via respiratory droplets - one cough or sneeze in a crowd can infect multiple people. That is why minimizing contact with infected people is critical to containing future outbreaks. To that end, Israel-based startup Binah.ai has developed technology that allows health-care professionals to measure a patient’s vital signs without making physical contact with them. The patient simply looks into the screen of a smartphone, and an app analyzes the video to extract the patient’s heart rate, respiration and oxygen saturation —vital signs that, if abnormal, could be indicators of a Covid-19 infection.
David Maman, founder and chief executive officer of Binah.ai, says the technology works much the same way as a smartwatch or fitness band. “At the back of every smartwatch, there are those blinking lights that extract a signal known as a photoplethysmogram, which allows the device to estimate your heart rate,” he says. “What we are doing is exactly the same, but instead of shining light, we analyze the light that reflects off your cheeks into the camera.” Health-care workers at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal are testing the technology in a clinical trial. Lawrence Rosenberg, president and chief executive of West-Central Montreal Health, the health-care network to which the hospital belongs, says the app shows promise as a treatment aid not just for Covid-19, but for any respiratory disease, or even the common flu.
"If we validate it, we'll be able to install in on individual devices of patients, which means they can monitor themselves, and if they're in the institution we don't need to send in nursing staff to monitor vital signs," Dr. Rosenberg says,"picking up people becoming ill before it's obvious". Binah.ai says its software runs on most smartphones. Potential customers include telemedicine companies, insurance companies and organizations that want to monitor employee health to prevent sick people from returning to offices. On June 10, Binah.ai announced it had completed a $13.5 million Series B funding round led by Maverick Ventures Israel.