Israeli tech lets users check their vital signs by selfie

The company's technology can measure a person's heart rate, heart rate variability, mental stress level, oxygen saturation, respiration rate, and more just by analyzing a person's face.

Binah.ai's technology identifies key vital health signs by analyzing a photo (photo credit: Courtesy)
Binah.ai's technology identifies key vital health signs by analyzing a photo
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The coronavirus pandemic helped push telehealth technology into the spotlight, as more people sought new ways to obtain medical advice online without visiting a doctor’s office. One solution gaining international popularity is from Ramat Gan-based Binah.ai, which allows a user to measure vital signs just by taking a selfie.
The company’s technology can measure a person’s heart rate, heart rate variability, mental stress level, oxygen saturation, respiration rate, and more just by analyzing a person’s face. The solution, which is provided as an SDK in its customers’ applications, is used by 80 healthcare providers and insurance companies around the world with hundreds of thousands of users.
It is hard to fathom that so much health data can be gathered by a phone camera, but company CEO David Maman says the concept is based on existing technologies.
“The smartwatches that many people are wearing now have a blinking light in the back extracting a photoplethysmographic (PPG) signal,” said Maman. “That technology has been available since 1938, almost 80 years. What we do is extract the same PPG signal out of the person’s face by analyzing the light reflection intensity that comes out from the person’s face to the camera.
“This kind of technology existed for a number of years, but usually it can only work in a very very optimized environment, with a five-channel camera and lab environment where everything is stationary. What we’ve done is adapt the technology so that it can extract vital signs on any smartphone, no matter a person’s skin color, gender, or age.”
That puts Binah.ai in a position to do for healthcare what e-commerce is doing for retail, he said.
“According to the World Health Organization, half the world lacks access to basic health services, and the world is heading toward a huge shortage of medical workers,” said Maman. “Health care costs are skyrocketing, with about 100 million people pushed into extreme poverty every year due to their health expenses.
“By 2050, the number of people above the age of 80 is expected to double, and there will be more than 2.2 billion people above the age of 60. There are a lot of new technologies and services that provide health care services, but a lot of them require different types of equipment. That creates endless friction points, whether its hardware prices, shipping costs, learning how to use it, or something else. We’ve developed a system that provides critical health information from almost any device.”
Maman founded the company in 2016 after the previous company he founded, HexaTier, was acquired by Huawei for $42 million. Before that, he founded and sold other companies, including Teridion, GreenCloud, Vanadium-Soft and Preacos. Binah.ai currently has 67 employees.
The company’s SDK allows the solution to be embedded in other health apps to be used alongside other telehealth applications. The technology runs on the user’s device, not the cloud, so patient privacy is maintained to a high level.
Data can be used at various stages along the patient’s path, Maman noted. “The app can help make the decision whether a person needs to go to a doctor,” he said. “It can also extract vital signs during an online session with a doctor, and he can schedule a follow-up scan a few days later if needed.
“The American Heart Association recently released papers showing how stress has become a core influencer of our entire activity, and is linked to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and just about everything else COVID-19 is causing,” Maman said. “The ability to measure stress in a much better way is invaluable.”
Employers can use the technology to help keep the workplace safe as workers begin to return to the office after months of working from home, he added.
Binah.ai is currently working on obtaining FDA and EMA approval for the app, which would make it available for hospitals and clinics around the world.