University of Oulu researcher to international innovation finals 

Imagine a doctor wearing a camera-based device to unobtrusively monitor a patient’s physiological measurements or diagnosing possible diseases by simply observing a patient’s face from a distance. Sounds convenient, right?

Furthermore, it sounds like a world class innovation idea constructed by postdoctoral researcher Miguel Bordallo López at the Center for Machine Vision and Signal Analysis. His proposal: Wearables for doctors: Transforming primary healthcare with thermal imaging and face analysis has been selected as a finalist for the Nokia Bell Labs Prize 2017. From 334 applications worldwide there are only 9 finalists left from top Universities of the world like Stanford, UCLA, MIT, Princeton, and including Bordallo López, only two from Europe. 

The winner will be named at headquarters of Bell Labs, Murray Hill in New Jersey, USA. on December 8 just after giving presentations to the prestigious Bell Labs judges in the Awards ceremony. “I’m very excited to present in front of Nobel laureates and high level executives”, says Bordallo López.

“The innovation is combining parts together in a way that they have not been used like this before”, says Bordallo López who enjoys science competitions. “My demo is easily shown and understood, one can immediately see the warmth of the veins, frequency of breathing or cold nose, and thereby grasp the core innovative idea.” In this last phase of the competition, Dr. Bordallo is being assisted by master student Contantino Álvarez, PhD candidate Mehdi Safarpour and Professor Olli Silvén, who are collaborating in the improvement of the demonstration platform.

Automated medical diagnosis assistance and health monitoring provide objective information on a patient’s condition. For example, University of Oulu's recent research suggests that up to 30 medically relevant symptoms or conditions can be detected or at least assessed objectively using computer vision methods and facial images. The main research objective is to leverage the use of small thermal cameras that allow the doctors to go "beyond" what is visible with the naked eye, building a device that meet the requirements of novel real-time medical applications.  This device can provide medical practitioners with timely information that complements and improves their diagnosis, avoiding encumbering and unnecessary tests.

During the past decade, there have been numerous research and development efforts in the field of wearable health monitoring systems. However, most of the proposed techniques require users to strap on bulky sensors, chest straps or sticky electrodes. This project has the promise to transform the future of healthcare by creating real-time and invisible medical diagnosis and health monitoring technology, accessible by ordinary people. This revolution will take place in our everyday lives.

The Bell Labs Prize is a competition for innovators worldwide that recognizes game-changing proposals in the field of information and communications technologies. To win the prize, proposals must be novel, have never been done before, and represent “out of the box” thinking as well as have a significant scientific impact advancing the state-of-the-art in technology.

Bordallo López idea was pitched recently at Bell Labs Prize Innovathon at its global headquarters in the US and in the Skolar Award finals at SLUSH 2016.
Learn more about Bordallo López’s research

Updated 12.12.2017

Bordallo López found the experience to very good, although he did not win: “The first day of the finals, we were preparing our presentations with a Bell Labs Researcher and my Bell Labs Executive Sponsor, Marcus Hofmann, who is the Head of Application Platforms & Software Systems Research at Bell Labs/Nokia. On the 8th of Dec was the presentation day, and I was the first one in the morning. We presented for the 7 judges and our Bell Labs Executive Sponsor.” See the Bell Labs price awarded research

Last updated: 12.12.2017