Researchers have developed computer vision techniques to read and record glucose levels, time, and date displayed on a typical glucose test via the camera on a mobile phone. The technology, which doesn’t require an internet or Bluetooth connection, works for any type of glucose meter, in any orientation, and in a variety of light levels. It also reduces waste by eliminating the need to replace high-quality non-Bluetooth meters, making it a cost-effective solution. The team created a free mobile phone app, called GlucoRx Vision. Users simply take a picture of their glucose meter and the results are automatically read and recorded, allowing much easier monitoring of blood glucose levels.
In addition to the glucose meters that people with diabetes use on a daily basis, many other types of digital meters are used in the medical and industrial sectors; however, many of these meters still do not have wireless connectivity, so connecting them to phone tracking apps often requires manual input.
The computer vision technology behind the GlucoRx app is made up of two steps. First, the screen of the glucose meter is detected. The researchers used a single training image and augmented it with random backgrounds, particularly backgrounds with people. This helps ensure the system is robust when the user’s face is reflected in the phone’s screen.
Second, a neural network called Le-Digit detects each digit on the screen and reads it. The network is trained with computer-generated synthetic data, avoiding the need for labor-intensive labeling of data, which is commonly needed to train a neural network. Tests were conducted in various types of orientations, viewpoints, and light levels. The app will vibrate when it has read the information, so the user gets a clear signal when they have done it correctly. The system is accurate across a range of different types of meters, with read accuracies close to 100 percent.
In addition to blood glucose monitoring, the researchers also tested the system on different types of digital meters, such as blood pressure monitors and kitchen and bathroom scales.