Camera-based measurement of respiratory rates is reliable

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Respiratory rate (RR) is one of the most important vital signs used to detect whether a patient is in critical condition. It is part of many risk scores and its measurement is essential for triage of patients in emergency departments. It is often not recorded as measurement is cumbersome and time-consuming. We intended to evaluate the accuracy of camera-based measurements as an alternative measurement to the current practice of manual counting.

Materials and methods

We monitored the RR of healthy male volunteers with a camera-based prototype application and simultaneously by manual counting and by capnography, which was considered the gold standard. The four assessors were mutually blinded. We simulated normoventilation, hypoventilation and hyperventilation as well as deep, normal and superficial breathing depths to assess potential clinical settings. The volunteers were assessed while being undressed, wearing a T-shirt or a winter coat.


In total, 20 volunteers were included. The results of camera-based measurements of RRs and capnography were in close agreement throughout all clothing styles and respiratory patterns (Pearson’s correlation coefficient, r=0.90–1.00, except for one scenario, in which the volunteer breathed slowly dressed in a winter coat r=0.84). In the winter-coat scenarios, the camera-based prototype application was superior to human counters.


In our pilot study, we found that camera-based measurements delivered accurate and reliable results. Future studies need to show that camera-based measurements are a secure alternative for measuring RRs in clinical settings as well.

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