A message is viral on whatsapp suggesting people to download an app from Google Play store which can check your Blood Oxygen level using your mobile’s rear camera
Following is the viral message:
“Please install app and measure oxygen level daily in this carona time and if oxygen level falls below 90 please consult doctor immediately.
App for oximeter, blood pressure and Heart rate.Give permission of camera to measure on App.
Go to settings
Go to application
Click on app
Press camera allow button
Now open ” Pedometer Workout” app.
Click on ” Data”
Click on “Oxygen ”
Select ” Mobile Measurment”
Press the index finger on the rear camera.
Please cover full camera.
Touch “Measure ”
Hold the finger until measurment is complete.
Reading will display on the screen.
We can measure all the tests mentioned under ” Data”””
Every one please install app and measure oxygen level daily in this carona time and if oxygen level falls below 90 please consult doctor immediately.
App for oximeter, blood pressure and Heart rate.Give permission of camera to measure on App. https://t.co/4wGaliSqh6
— Sanjay Jha (@sanjaykj67) July 26, 2020
Please install app and measure oxygen level daily in this carona time and if oxygen level falls below 90 please consult doctor immediately.
App for oximeter, blood pressure and Heart rate.Give permission of camera to measure on App. https://t.co/0PZb4YX4HO
— sanjay swain (@SanjaySwain_88) July 25, 2020
OXYMETER IN YOUR PHONE*
*Those who haven't yet got an pulse Oximeter, and even others please install this app and measure oxygen level daily in this Covid time and if oxygen level falls below 90 please consult doctor immediately.*1/3
— QueenVictoria (@Nishi_Reddy_) July 26, 2020
Let’s start with the fact that the app has been taken down from Google Play store, doesn’t exist anymore.
The app claimed to be a as good as an oximeter which it was not.
We talked with 3 different doctors, two are working with Corona Patients, and one from Pathology. They have been using oximter for years and denied the possibility of this app.
Secondly, Telangana Police have issued a warning for such apps.
Be Aware of Malicious links : Asks to download the app, to get your #PulseOxyMeter in your mobile for FREE.
Under this cover, it reads all the information stored in your mobile, uses it for illicit-transactions.
-Loots your hard earned. pic.twitter.com/Gx7iPEkUBg
— Telangana State Police (@TelanganaCOPs) July 27, 2020
CAUTION – IMPORTANT MESSAGE : FRAUDSTERS 'CASHING OUR ANXIETY IN THE AWAKE OF #COVID19PANDEMIC'.Many of them are…
Telangana Police wrote –
“CAUTION – IMPORTANT MESSAGE : FRAUDSTERS ‘CASHING OUR ANXIETY IN THE AWAKE OF #COVID19PANDEMIC‘.
Many of them are forwarding a message to download an app that checks your blood oxygen level. We know that, low oxygen level can be an indicator for Covid infection.
Be careful, incase you get a link to download such APPS to check your Oxygen levels.
“Yes” People will fall prey to this quickly, because of the current crisis (Covid19) where good health and safety is of prime importance.
Remember, this is another Covid19 related cyber Crime
Note that, your index finger (fingerprint) is used for various personal data authentication. Especially, for eWallet transactions and as an alternative to password for screen lock and apps.
It is risky, as these apps ask us to keep our finger on camera to compute the oxygen levels, where it can be misused by the hackers to steal our fingerprints.”
Our take on the content by Telangana Police (in red) above –
Above part about fingerprint theft is not credible as for a normal right focus photo, the object has to be approximately 7 cms away from the Mobile Camera (this distance may differ slightly with each different camera used but something touching the camera lens surely can’t be photographers properly. You can try on your phone too.
Check the image below for the reason above –
Photo for fingerprint (7 cms away from Camera)
Photo touching the camera lens with flash on (which apps asks to do)
So, obviously touching a camera leans doesn’t give out your fingerprint at all
Let’s see how an Oximeter works –
In Oximeter, one has to place his finger inside a clip looking device with a reading display on outside.
It has Infrared LED (light emitting diodes) above the finger and a light receiving sensor on the other side.
As the image below clears, if the oxygen in the blood is high, it stops the light so the light received on the other side is less, while receiving more light on the other side suggest the oxygen to be low.
Now, let’s see what mobile camera can do ?
The app asks to put your finger on Flash as well as on rear camera. It reflects some part of flash back to the camera which can be read by the app.
This is concept is not new, the first app was developed for iPhone years ago but it wasn’t taken seriously by doctors fraternity. They said it is OK to be used in sports while running etc, but not to be used clinically as it’s not reliable.
Trisha Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford tweeted –
NEW rapid review by me (small clinical/ editing role) and Lionel Tarassenko, Professor of Electrical Engineering (major bioengineer role):
Q: Can smartphone apps be used to measure oxygen saturation?
— Trisha Greenhalgh 😷 #BlackLivesMatter (@trishgreenhalgh) April 2, 2020
So the last doubt, why this app was viral ?
Under the current corona pandemic, almost everyone is afraid of even a sneeze or cough and wants to be sure if he/she is Corona Positive or not, and they believe this free app to be a blessing.
The app has been removed from Google Play store just today but by then it had more than a Lakh of downloads with mixed reviews. Mostly calling it fake.
We tried the app day before yesterday and found it gives different readings of the same finger when tried many times.
It also gave reading when we used Pencil in it instead of finger.
So why would anyone put so much effort to make such app ?
The app had advertisements on all of it’s screens including the dashboard.
So with lakhs of download, the maker by now might have earned a bit of money.