When assessing someone’s health, medical personnel measure vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Though you may not have heard of it before, respiratory rate (RR) is possibly the most crucial, because it’s one of the key predictors of injury severity.
However, accurate measurement is essential. The two main options for RR measurement are manual observation, which is prone to error, and capnography, which is invasive. Researchers at the Institute of Space Science in Malaysia set out to build a system that was accurate, fast, and completely non-invasive.
They built a contactless RR measurement system using an optical displacement sensor and LabVIEW. Basically, they shine a laser at a subject’s chest. The light reflects back to a sensor, which measures how the light moves as the chest moves during breathing. They used LabVIEW to visualize the signals, calculate RR in real time, and store the data for later analysis.