CardiVu is an accurate heart-rate monitoring app that works without having any sensor on your skin and blends transparently into your smartphone routine. We’ve looked at the latest version during CES 2020.

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The app runs in the background and uses the selfie camera to track the rhythm of the pupil dilatation, which has a very high correlation with the heartrate because both share the same nervous system pathway.

With enough heart rate data, it is possible to diagnose early signs of cardiovascular disease or stress. That’s particularly true if, in the future, researchers use machine-learning techniques to watch for correlation between heart-rate and several health conditions.  CardiVu measures the heart rate and computes a heart rate variability along with a stress index.

When it comes to data, more is better

Having “enough data” is the starting point here. If you go to the doctor weekly to have precise measurements, that’s four samples per month, and the doctor measures it in a window of a few minutes.

CardiVu can be used daily over a much longer period, which means that the average sample quality should be better, and you gather many more samples because of the daily usage. The longer the time window for sampling the data, the more insightful the overall picture will be.

A frictionless approach to heart-rate measurement

No-one likes to spend time measuring their heart rate, but everyone likes using their phones for hours, every day.

Based on that reality, CardiVu took the smart approach of piggy-backing on that smartphone usage.

Once installed, the app runs in the background and scans the user’s pupil movement during normal phone usage. It doesn’t do it all the time to avoid impacting battery life significantly but does it enough to gather the necessary data.

Not actual app. Illustration of an heart rate variability measured using the pupil motion

The best time to look at a user’s pupil is when he or she is reading something on the phone as the handset is kept subconsciously very stable.

We haven’t compared CardiVu’s accuracy to a medical-grade heart rate monitoring device to see what the differences are, but the app developer says that the precision is “clinically useful.”

From our experience with wearable devices, we expect that CardiVu would be more accurate than smartwatches/smart bands, but that’d be an excellent comparison to do.

The user data is saved to the CardiVu cloud systems where the actual Analysis happens (hosted on Amazon’s AWS), and the app interface allows the phone owner to share data with health professional people or other people they trust.

Without a more comprehensive test, we don’t know how the app affects battery life, and some of it will depend on whether or not it can record the pupil motion easily.

Like any other optical system, lighting conditions may affect the camera’s ability to see and focus on the eyes in extreme conditions such as low-light or very high contrast (bright light source behind you).

However, we like the contactless, frictionless approach, and the fact that the pupil movement methodology should be more accurate than many other consumer-based options. Next, some kind of medical certification (FDA?) would be grand, but for now, this is very promising.

At CES 2020, SmartDiagnosis/CardiVu is part of the Seoul Pavilion, in the Las Vegas Sands Convention center, Hall-G #51223.

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