New pulse-tracking tech does away with wearable sensors

The new technology would make chest straps unnecessary(Credit: Shutterstock)

Keeping an eye on one's heart rate is a big part of fitness tracking, with wearables from the Apple Watch to dedicated chest straps delivering the feature to users. But what if you could get the benefits of heartbeat sensing without even having to strap on a piece of tech? A team of researchers from the Kyoto University, together with Panasonic, is working on making that dream a reality, utilizing millimeter-wave radar tech and a specially-designed algorithm.

The new technology allows for remote measuring of a user's heartbeat in real time. The data is gathered using millimeter-wave radar, and is then processed using an algorithm designed to isolate the subject's heartbeat, cutting out the interference caused by other signals sent out by the body, from breathing to general movement.

The team believes that the ability to take measurements without the need to wear a physical sensor – something it calls "casual sensing" – will make the process less stressful for users, meaning they'll be more inclined to actually make use of the tech.

While early testing in a controlled environment returned results on par with electrocardiographs, it'll be some time before the technology is ready for consumer use.

"Now that we know that remote sensing is possible, we'll need to make the measurement ability more robust so that the system can monitor subjects in various age ranges and in many different contexts," said Kyoto University's Toru Sato.

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