MIT device allows remote health monitoring of COVID-19 patients using wireless signals

A team from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has developed a new device that's able to monitor COVID-19 remotely. The device has the potential to allow remote monitoring, making taking care of infectious patients safer for medical staff. The device the researchers created can remotely monitor a patient's breathing, movement, and sleep pattern using wireless signals.The team calls the device Emerald and it has been used in multiple hospitals and assistive-care facilities for a variety of patients, including COVID-19 patients. Emerald is a WiFi-like box that's able to analyze wireless signals in the environment using artificial intelligence. By monitoring the wireless signals, the Emerald device can infer vital signs, sleep, and movement.

The team notes that the signal created by the device emits about 1000 times less radiation than a standard cell phone. The equipment was voluntarily placed in a patient's room where Emerald non-invasively monitored the patient's health and reported back to the patient's doctor. The doctor was able to determine the overall health condition of the patient by looking at things such as breathing and walking speed.

A physician monitoring a patient who had the device installed in her apartment was able to determine that the patient's respiratory rate had decreased from 23 to 18 breaths per minute, closer to her baseline. The system also shows that the sleep quality for the woman had improved and that she was walking more quickly around her apartment as she recovered. Emerald could also be used to detect other respiratory problems that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Emerald has been used to monitor a patient who suffers from anxiety and has insomnia. The data was able to predict that the patient had sleep apnea, which was confirmed with follow-up testing. The team believes that Emerald and devices like it could be used to expand healthcare capacity. There is no indication when Emerald or similar devices might be commercialized.