Fujitsu software measures pulse using smartphone camera

March 19, 2013

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    Fujitsu Laboratories have developed a software which can use a smartphone, PC or tablet camera to monitor a person’s pulse. The greatest part is that it only takes around five seconds to get a reading.

    The new technology will be shown at the 2013 General Conference of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers in Gifu, Japan, and the way it works sounds very simple. The camera monitors the changes in the brightness of the person’s face. Said changes are caused by the blood flowing through the area, as hemoglobin absorbs green light – more details on the way it works can be found in the attached press release.

    The system can gather enough information to measure the pulse of a person in as little as five seconds. And, because it’s smart enough not to take into account situations when the person moves or leaves the area in front of the camera, it can be used to gather statistics and monitor the person’s pulse throughout the day.

    The uses this invention could have are absolutely endless. Fujitsu suggests, among other things, installing the sensor in an airport, so security personnel can track sick people or those with malicious intentions. I for one think it could be used to see whether employees are lying when they say they don’t feel well and want to go home.

    Seriously though, health solutions are taken very seriously by tech companies (probably because, with technology doing more and more things for us, we tend to become lazier). Remember Samsung’s S Health app, used on the Galaxy S4, but introduced on the S3.

    Show Press Release

    Fujitsu Laboratories Develops Real-Time Pulse Monitor Using Facial Imaging

    Measures pulse in as little as five seconds using built-in cameras in PCs or smartphones, enabling ongoing health tracking

     

    Kawasaki, Japan, March 18, 2013 — Fujitsu Laboratories Limited today announced that it has developed a technology to measure a person’s pulse in real time using a built-in camera or webcam in a PC, smartphone or tablet.

    Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a technology that detects a person’s 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. It 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 also automatically chooses moments when the person’s body and face are relatively still to minimize the effects of irrelevant data on measurements. This technology has a wide range of potential uses, including health monitoring and maintenance as well as security applications.

    Details of this technology are being presented at the 2013 General Conference of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers, opening March 19 in Gifu, Japan.

     

    Background

    In recent years, there has been increasing awareness about the need to maintain the health of employees and senior citizens, raising the demand for new, more convenient ways for individuals to monitor and manage their health, anytime and anywhere.

    As part of a health-support service that can be customized to each person’s needs, Fujitsu Laboratories is aiming to create a way for people to track their health and store the resulting data in the cloud for analysis, helping them better understand their health and how it changes over time.

    Fujitsu is committed to building the technological platforms needed to advance the Company’s vision of a Human Centric Intelligent Society, making it possible for people to use smartphones or tablets, or a computer at work or at home, to track their health, collect the resulting data, upload it to the cloud, and perform real-time analyses to provide individualized services for their personal needs.

     

    Technological Issues

    One fundamental indicator of human health condition is pulse. However, pulse monitoring typically requires specialized equipment that must be worn and operated with some care. These inconveniences make it more likely that users will fail or forget to have their pulse monitored. Accordingly, there has been a need for an automated way to measure pulse that minimizes the inconvenience of hooking up and operating the equipment as well as sitting still while it works.

     

    Newly Developed Technology

    Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a technology that automatically measures pulse in real time using facial images captured using the built-in camera on a smartphone, tablet, or PC. Key features of this technology are as follows.

     

    1. Detects pulse by signal processing of extracted color components

    One characteristic of hemoglobin in blood is that it absorbs green light. Based on this fact, Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a technology that detects a person’s pulse by measuring changes in the brightness of the person’s face as blood flows through it. The technology starts to work by shooting video of a subject and calculating average values for the color components (red/green/blue) in a certain area of the face for each frame. Next it removes irrelevant signal data that is present in all three color components and extracts the brightness waveform from the green component. The pulse rate is then computed based on the peaks in that brightness waveform (Figure 2). This technique can measure pulse in as little as five seconds.

     

    2. Automatically removes moving segments

    The acquired pulse data that is adversely affected by movements of the face or body is automatically removed. For example, moments when a person’s head turns sideways while talking on the phone or standing up from a chair are automatically detected and removed. This makes it possible to continually monitor pulse during the course of a day while minimizing the impact of irrelevant data.

     

    Results

    This technology relieves people from wearing or operating any specialized equipment or sitting still for long periods in order to have their pulse measured, and makes it possible to continually monitor pulse. For example, 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.

     

    Future Plans

    Fujitsu Laboratories seeks to put this technology into practical use in fiscal 2013 for a variety of application scenarios such as a security or health monitoring and maintenance solution, building it into smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

     

    About Fujitsu

     

    Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company offering a full range of technology products, solutions and services. Over 170,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.5 trillion yen (US$54 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. For more information, please see http://www.fujitsu.com.

     

    About Fujitsu Laboratories

    Founded in 1968 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Laboratories Limited is one of the premier research centers in the world. With a global network of laboratories in Japan, China, the United States and Europe, the organization conducts a wide range of basic and applied research in the areas of Next-generation Services, Computer Servers, Networks, Electronic Devices and Advanced Materials. For more information, please see: http://jp.fujitsu.com/labs/en.

    Comments

    • earl

      You guys are aware that this has been around for years right? Iphone and android?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000058143915 Jack Parker

        Previous apps didnt work, theyd give a reading and 2 seconds later it would be completely different

      • kascollet

        Didn’t existing apps imply putting a finger on the sensor to read pulse ?
        I don’t know of any of them being able to do it at distance, just watching at face’s skin switch of color.

        BTW, the use cases mentioned in the article are quite frightening !

      • http://www.groovypost.com/ Bogdan Bele

        There were apps that could measure the pulse, of course. This is interesting in terms of complexity and monitoring over a certain period of time.

    • earl

      on android, try Cardiograph (Android). Works for me very well. I donate blood weekly here in Canada, and have tested it against what they use quite often. Very accurate. Even the gf’s doctor had said he’s never seen anything like it before, she has an iphone.

    • chris

      Mesures or Measures???

    • hainen

      I prefer app that use normal camera to see through clothes..

    • Benjamin Cavazos

      MIT has similar technology, if not the same…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rWycBEHn3s&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    • Benedict Tan

      OK Glass, polygraph.

    • Robby V

      Does anybody know how much this will cost to buy? will it just be a $2 app? or will it even be free?……….

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