Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a technology to measure a person’s pulse from a facial image taken by scans from the built-in camera in a PC, smartphone or tablet. Fujitsu’s goal is to help people to track their health data in real-time and store it in the cloud for later analysis.

Similar to technology developed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the pulse detector’s purpose is to automate health monitoring and to making it ubiquitous. It works by measuring the brightness of a person’s face – specifically, green light, which is absorbed by hemoglobin in the blood. Measuring the amount of green in light reflected off the face gives a measurement of hemoglobin and therefore blood flow. From this, the pulse can be measured.

Pulse changes along with staple activities recorded over the course of one day

This detection requires no additional hardware, only the camera built into a device, which can make a reading in about five seconds. The camera constantly monitors the persons face and waits for a quiet moment when the face isn't moving to avoid conflicting data before recording a video. It then calculates the ratio of red, blue and green elements on a certain area of the face and extracts the green waveform data and computes the pulse from the brightest peaks of the waveform. In this way, the pulse can be continually monitored and recorded.

Fujitsu sees the technology having applications for not only health monitoring, but also in security. It doesn't just see the pulse detectors being used in portable devices and PCs, but in televisions, mirrors and other places where people are likely to relax in front of for a few seconds. In addition, the detectors could be built into gates and control points in places like airports for detecting suspicious people or those who are ill.

The technology will be presented at the 2013 General Conference of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers, which opens on March 19 in Gifu, Japan, and is expected to be rolled out for practical use this year.

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