There’s no denying that smartphones are getting smarter; after the release of the Galaxy S4 last week, which featured revolutionary new software called Eye Scroll, that enabled the user to move between applications by simply looking at the screen. Now Japanese company Fujitsu have invented a smartphone that can take your pulse, just by looking at your face.
The device works by looking at the redness in a person’s face, measuring the variations caused by the flow of blood. A person’s face contains hundreds of tiny blood vessels in which the blood can flow, carrying the all important haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that contains iron and transports oxygen, but it also absorbs green light, and it is this that enables the software to capture the amount of blood that is in the person’s face, and therefore calculate the pulse rate.
To take someone’s pulse, you simply point the camera of the smartphone at the subject for around five seconds, and even if there are slight head movements or the person stands up quickly, the camera will automatically adjust for this, and the pulse will be calculated.
The device was demonstrated by a Fujitsu engineer at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo today, and it is thought that the software could be adapted by health organisations. The software could be on the general market within a year, and would enable people to monitor their own health, at work, during their breaks, or at home.
In a statement to the press, the company said: “Even at a busy workplace, or any time a person is sitting in front of a PC, whether for teleconferencing or writing e-mails, their pulse can be measured during brief moments of quiet. At home, a camera built into a TV can measure the pulse of people relaxing in front of it, or a mirror, for when people are getting ready in the morning. Pulse detectors built into gates at event sites or control points at airports could be a possible security application by detecting people in ill-health and people acting suspiciously.”
The company suggested that the software could even be used at large-scale events, such as concerts, where camera could be fitted to monitor the faces of the crowd members to prevent ill-health. On another note, the camera could be used as a security measure at airports or seaports, to help to identify people who are acting suspiciously as their pulse quickens when they pass through security measures.
The software is based on research carried out by the MIT Media Lab, who have shown that when your heartbeats, blood is pumped into your face. In fact, an app, made for iPhone, called Cardiio, which also uses the phone’s camera to take the pulse, has used this research themselves to develop their software. They say: “Every time your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face. Using sophisticated software, your iPhone’s front camera can track these tiny changes in reflected light that are not visible to the human eye and calculate your heart beat!”