A Fujitsu engineer shows a the real-time pulse monitor system with facial imaging technology in Tokyo. AFP photo
A new technology that will enable smartphones to take your pulse within five seconds - just by looking at your face - has been unveiled in Japan.
The technology developed by Fujitsu Laboratories measures a person's pulse in real time by using facial images captured by a built-in camera or webcam in a PC, smartphone or tablet.
It will provide a new, more convenient way for individuals to monitor and manage their health, anytime and anywhere.
The technology requires no special hardware and can measure pulse rate simply by pointing a camera at a person's face for as little as five seconds.
It detects the pulse by measuring variations in the brightness of the person's face thought to be caused by the flow of blood. It is based on the characteristic of hemoglobin in blood, which absorbs green light.
The technology starts to work by shooting video of a subject and calculating average values for the colour components (red/green/blue) in a certain area of the face for each frame, the company said in a statement.
Next it removes irrelevant signal data that is present in all three colour components and extracts the brightness waveform from the green component. The pulse rate is then computed based on the peaks in that brightness waveform.
It also automatically chooses moments when the person's body and face are relatively still to minimise the effects of irrelevant data on measurements.
The company plans to put this technology into practical use this year for a variety of application scenarios such as health monitoring and maintenance as well as security applications.
"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," the company said.
"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," it said.
"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 statement said.