Custom finger clip offers a new way to measure blood pressure, other vitals

University of Missouri engineers have designed a prototype of a novel blood pressure monitoring device using two photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors.

Feb. 18, 2022


Kenny Gerling: High blood pressure has no warning signs or symptoms. This makes regular screenings, such as those using a blood pressure cuff, vital for health care providers to monitor a patient’s long-term health. But there’s a problem — many people become nervous in a clinical setting. It’s a phenomenon known as “white coat syndrome,” and it can result in elevated blood pressure that throws off the results.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have pioneered a new approach to monitoring someone’s blood pressure that gives patients quick, accurate results without the stress. All it takes is a clip that goes on your finger, said Richard Byfield, a mechanical and aerospace graduate student at the University of Missouri’s College of Engineering.

Byfield: “We took two photoplethysmography (or PPG sensors) that are just light sensors, we shined them onto a finger at two different locations and then we calculated a pulse wave velocity — or how fast the pulse wave travels through the bloodstream — and we correlated that with blood pressures to estimate future blood pressures. So, it’s a quick, non-invasive way of estimating blood pressure without a blood pressure cuff.”

Gerling:  Byfield said this research is part of a larger project aiming to reduce the number of tools used for monitoring patient vitals.

Byfield: “If I tell you to breathe normal, the first thing you’re going to do is not breathe normal, and that’s what nurses face all the time. So just putting this device on the finger, you don’t even have to tell them that you’re recording the vitals and you can get as accurate as possible vitals in a clinical setting.”

Gerling: For more on this research, visit

I’m Kenny Gerling with a spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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