An Accessible Pulse Oximeter for Visually-Impaired Physiotherapists: Developing a Flexible Audio Information and Feedback System - Part 2

Pulse oximeters are used in healthcare to monitor oxygen saturation levels in the blood, and typically provide readings only through visual displays, making them inaccessible to visually-impaired people. This project involves developing a flexible system that can interpret the output from a pulse oximeter or other device, and present it in a more accessible format.

Department: School of Systems Engineering, Systems Engineering

Supervised by: Faustina Hwang

The Placement Project

This project is based on a real need identified by a visually-impaired physiotherapist. Currently, pulse oximeters, i.e. devices used to monitor blood oxygen saturation levels, have only visual displays making them inaccessible to visually-impaired therapists. This project aims to develop a system that can interpret the output from a digital display and present the information in audio. The system should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate a range of input formats (e.g. from different devices) and output formats (e.g. different languages), and allow the user to configure the device to suit their needs. The project has two parts - Part 1 focuses on developing a standalone unit for providing audio output, and Part 2 focuses on developing a unit for translating information from existing devices into a format appropriate for the audio unit in Part 1. The project has opportunities for two UROP students working together as a team - this placement focuses on Part 2. This involves investigating interface requirements between third-party instruments and the audio unit, as well as gaining a better understanding of use scenarios (e.g. in physiotherapy) and user requirements. The student will design, build, and test flexible interface units – possibilities include using computer vision to read numbers off a visual display or interpreting data from a dataport. A previous UROP developed a system to provide audio information from a voltmeter. The current UROPs will build on this, taking the previous system forward to incorporate more functionality and greater flexibility and reconfigurability.


• specify the format of input/output to each subsystem, in collaboration with the companion UROP student • research the possible interfaces required between third-party instruments and an audio output module • identify use scenarios and associated user requirements (e.g. size, portability, reconfigurability) • design, build, and test flexible solutions which, in addition to providing information capture from a given pulse oximeter, can be adapted for other instruments/devices • get user feedback on “proof of concept” (e.g. on fitness for purpose) • incorporate user feedback into the redesign of the subsystem • integrate with the subsystem from companion UROP into a complete, modular system

Skills, knowledge and experience required

Programming skills and knowledge of electronics. Good communication skills for obtaining user feedback would be an asset.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

New programming skills (e.g. image processing, signal processing), electronic circuit design and development, modular design and system integration, user needs analysis, working in a team, communication skills. Potential for a conference publication.

Place of Work

School of Systems Engineering

Hours of Work

Standard office hours

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Monday 29 June 2009 - Friday 07 August 2009

How to Apply

Please apply by letter + CV to

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