Tufts team honored for innovation and entrepreneurship

At the 2023 IEEE BioCAS Conference, PhD student Ravi Durbha and Associate Professor Valencia Koomson received a first prize award for their advanced wearable oximetry sensor.
Composite image of two photos. Left photo: Ravi Durbha holds award, standing between two men. Right photo: Valencia Koomson headshot
PhD student Ravi Durbha, center in group photo, receives first prize in the 2023 IEEE BioCAS Innovation Generation Towards Entrepreneurship category. Durbha developed the ChromaSense device with Associate Professor Valencia Koomson, pictured right.

Pulse oximeters are an essential tool for medical professionals caring for patients with diagnosed heart or lung conditions or who suffer from shortness of breath. The electronic devices measure the saturation of oxygen carried in a patient's red blood cells. As useful a function as they can serve, pulse oximeters present significant limitations. In February 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert notifying the public of the devices' limits, in particular pointing to a 2020 study suggesting that pulse oximeters are less accurate for patients with dark skin pigmentation. 

In the Advanced Integrated Circuits and Systems Lab at Tufts University, Associate Professor Valencia Koomson leads a group of researchers studying integrated systems for applications in sensing, biomedical imaging, and human-computer interfaces. Koomson and team's work includes developing wearable sensors and pulse oximeter devices designed to provide more accurate readings for all users. At the 2023 IEEE Biomedical Circuits and Systems (BioCAS) Conference held in Toronto in October, Koomson and electrical engineering PhD student Ravi Durbha presented their device called ChromaSense, also known as EquiVitals.  

With a patent filed earlier this year, ChromaSense is a non-invasive health monitor that uses adaptive calibration techniques to ensure the accuracy of readings across skin tones and blood perfusion levels. With a presentation that highlighted ChromaSense's groundbreaking potential to foster true healthcare equity as well as pinpointing key manufacturing factors like accessibility, cost effectiveness, and reliability, the team was awarded first prize in the 2023 IEEE BioCAS Innovation Generation Towards Entrepreneurship category. 

When it comes to next steps for the device, Koomson and Durbha are now collaborating with a medical device manufacturing company to develop a prototype for clinical trials. After being named a finalist in a recent challenge issued by the Open Oximetry Project, the device will be tested at the UCSF Hypoxia Lab. 

BioCAS is a leading international conference that brings together interdisciplinary research from across circuits and systems engineering, medicine, and life and physical sciences. The annual conference is organized by IEEE, a leading voice for electrical and electronics engineers and the world's largest technical professional organization dedicated to benefiting humanity through advancing technology.

Learn more about Associate Professor Valencia Koomson and about the Advanced Integrated Circuits and Systems Lab at Tufts University