New smartphone video technology can be used to accurately take blood pressure readings, investigators have found. They foresee its use in alternatives to blood pressure cuffs for everyday monitoring of high blood pressure.

In a recent study, transdermal optical imaging predicted systolic blood pressure with nearly 95% accuracy, and diastolic blood pressure with pulse pressure at nearly 96% accuracy.

The technology detects blood flow changes in facial videos. When ambient light penetrates the skin’s outer layers, the smartphone’s optical sensors can detect blood flow patterns. The imaging model then uses that information to predict blood pressure.

Given that nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure and many don’t know it, the technology could be a game-changer, according to a statement by the American Heart Association. In adults aged 60 and older, over 63% have the condition. Regular monitoring is essential to managing it and avoiding its deadly effects, the association says.

If future studies confirm the latest test results, “We will have the option of a contactless and non-invasive method to monitor blood pressures conveniently, perhaps anytime and anywhere, for health management purposes,” said Kang Lee, Ph.D., whose lab is developing and testing the technology.

The study was published in the August issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, an American Heart Association journal.