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#innovations2015: The Phone Oximeter™

October 11, 2013
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Maybe you’ve already heard of the Phone Oximeter™:

The Phone Oximeter™ was recently selected as one of the ten innovations that are ready to be used in developing countries to help reach the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

But what is it?

Saving Women and Children Now

“The Phone Oximeter™ is a low-cost, vital-signs monitoring application that allows for standard, medical sensors to connect through the audio port of most any mobile device,” says Tom Walker, President & CEO of LionsGate Technologies. LionsGate Technologies is a spin-off company out of the University of British Columbia, the Child & Family Research Institute and BC Children’s Hospital that leverages the innovative research taking place on these sites to market sustainable solutions to global health concerns. 

The Phone Oximeter™ takes advantage of the global availability of mobile phones to provide non-invasive measurements of blood oxygen levels with a light sensor attached to a patient’s finger. 

It’s small and inexpensive – it costs less than $10 to make. But its implications for global health are so significant that the Phone Oximeter™ was recently picked by Seattle-based NGO PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) as one of the ten breakthrough health innovations that will help developing countries reach the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. 

This small piece of mobile technology has the ability to reduce children’s and women’s mortality from illnesses such as pneumonia, which kills more than 1-million children annually (and is the leading cause of death for children under age five), and pre-eclampsia – the second-leading cause of maternal death. 

“We Are Definitely On To Something”

The Phone Oximeter™ is universally accessible. 

According to Dr. Mark Ansermino, “the Phone Oximeter™ will allow us to realize our goal of a pulse oximeter in every home.” It is as medically useful in Vancouver as it is in Kampala, and because it is so inexpensive and connects to the audio port of almost any mobile device, it has the opportunity to help women and children in rural, remote and developing parts of the world overcome health inequities and not just survive, but thrive.

To find out more about PATH's Breakthrough Innovations, visit Join the conversation on Twitter at #innovations2015.