Development of a baby friendly non-contact method for measuring vital signs: First results of clinical measurements in an open incubator at a neonatal intensive care unit

John H. Klaessens, Marlies van den Born, Albert van der Veen, Janine Sikkens-van de Kraats, Frank A.M. van den Dungen, Rudolf M. Verdaasdonk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
91 Downloads (Pure)


For infants and neonates in an incubator vital signs, such as heart rate, breathing, skin temperature and blood oxygen saturation are measured by sensors and electrodes sticking to the skin. This can damage the vulnerable skin of neonates and cause infections. In addition, the wires interfere with the care and hinder the parents in holding and touching the baby. These problems initiated the search for baby friendly 'non-contact' measurement of vital signs. Using a sensitive color video camera and specially developed software, the heart rate was derived from subtle repetitive color changes. Potentially also respiration and oxygen saturation could be obtained. A thermal camera was used to monitor the temperature distribution of the whole body and detect small temperature variations around the nose revealing the respiration rate. After testing in the laboratory, seven babies were monitored (with parental consent) in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) simultaneously with the regular monitoring equipment. From the color video recordings accurate heart rates could be derived and the thermal images provided accurate respiration rates. To correct for the movements of the baby, tracking software could be applied. At present, the image processing was performed off-line. Using narrow band light sources also non-contact blood oxygen saturation could be measured. Non-contact monitoring of vital signs has proven to be feasible and can be developed into a real time system. Besides the application on the NICU non-contact vital function monitoring has large potential for other patient groups.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvanced Biomedical and Clinical Diagnostic and Surgical Guidance Systems XII
ISBN (Print)9780819498489
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventAdvanced Biomedical and Clinical Diagnostic and Surgical Guidance Systems XII 2014 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 2 Feb 20144 Feb 2014
Conference number: 12

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


ConferenceAdvanced Biomedical and Clinical Diagnostic and Surgical Guidance Systems XII 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • Algorithms
  • Non-contact
  • Photoplethysmography
  • Thermography
  • Vital signs

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