Skip to main content

IEM News Release

Ultra-Low Cost Blood Pressure Monitor Offers Health Monitoring On Demand



July 7th, 2023

When you walk into the hospital, one of the first vitals taken is your blood pressure. With the prevalence of blood pressure related risk factors and diseases, there is a constant need for blood pressure monitoring. However, affordability and access to this type of technology is limited. Edward Wang, Assistant Professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Director of the DigiHealth Lab at UC San Diego, and his team have developed an ultra-low cost blood pressure monitor utilizing smartphone technology to tackle this issue. Wang was also the recipient of IEM’s GEM 2020 award, which helped in providing early funding for his product.


The monitor— which is about the size of a phone’s camera lens— works by using a spring loaded finger printer to apply pressure to the finger and artery. As the finger presses down, the clip cuts off and measures the pressure. This is done by utilizing the phone’s camera to sense how far the clip has moved, and this distance is used to calculate the force applied. The monitor measures pulse by using the camera to capture the brightness of the image, which equates to the amount of blood in the finger. Both the force exerted on the clip and the fluctuation of the blood is then used to measure blood pressure. The technology was tested against a blood pressure cuff, and showed a very strong correlation in measurement.


wang_bloodpressure_monitor.pngPrototype of Wang’s blood pressure clip. Photo credits to the Digital Health Lab at UC San Diego.


Development of the monitor didn’t come without its difficulties. “Making something practical is far more difficult than people give credit to,” Wang said. Initial ideas were scrapped, either for device incompatibility or design impracticality. “Our goal was for the technology to work, it needed viability. Redesigning was a hurdle, but reiteration is what makes thing works even if it isn’t straightforward. It’s important to work through the ideas but to always remember what the original vision is.”


Wang’s current goal for the device is to make further improvements to eventually gain FDA approval, transforming it into a marketable product that will revolutionize blood pressure monitoring as a whole. “Our goal with this technology isn’t to swap or replace current devices. Rather, it is to introduce an entirely different product line,” says Wang. In the long run, Wang hopes for the product to be something part of everyday life. “If you walk into a clinic, maybe rather than a bowl of candy you have a bowl of these monitors instead. What if we could just mail it to you? We hope to be able to change the depth of the product, especially in lower resource places.”


Wang has recently launched his own company, Billion Labs Inc., which is a small business that aims at providing practical and affordable health monitoring for all remote health solutions. He hopes to fuel a movement towards remote health monitoring through his company. Wang hopes to continue to develop more products and go commercial as the company continues to mature. 

To learn more about Billion Labs Inc., visit their website here. To learn more about Wang’s own research, visit his website here. To learn more about the GEM program, visit our website.

View older articles in our  News Archives.