American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences

An Evaluation of Thermal Imaging Based Respiration Rate Monitoring in Children

Farah AL-Khalidi, Reza Saatchi, Heather Elphick and Derek Burke

DOI : 10.3844/ajeassp.2011.586.597

American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Volume 4, Issue 4

Pages 586-597


Problem statement: An important indicator of an individual’s health is respiration rate. It is the average number of times air is inhaled and exhaled per minute. Existing respiration monitoring methods require an instrument to be attached to the patient’s body during the recording. This is a discomfort to the patient and the instrument can be dislodged from its position. Approach: In this study a novel noncontact, thermal imaging based respiration rate measurement method is developed and evaluated. Facial thermal videos of 16 children (age: Median = 6.5 years, minimum = 6 months, maximum = 17 years) were processed in the study. The recordings were carried out while the children rested comfortably on a bed. The children’s respiration rates were also simultaneously measured using a number of conventional contact based methods. Results: This allowed comparisons with the thermal imaging method to be carried out. The image capture rate was 50 frames per second and the duration of a thermal video recording was 2 min per child. The thermal images were filtered and segmented to identify the nasal region. An algorithm was developed to automatically track the identified nasal area. This region was partitioned into eight equal concentric segments. The pixel values within each segment were averaged to produce a single thermal feature for that segment of the image. A respiration signal was obtained by plotting each segment’s feature against time. Conclusion: Respiration rate values were automatically calculated by determining the number of oscillations in the respiration signals per minute. A close correlation (coefficient = 0.994) was observed between the respiration rates measured using the thermal imaging method and those obtained using the most effective conventional contact based respiration method.


© 2011 Farah AL-Khalidi, Reza Saatchi, Heather Elphick and Derek Burke. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.