Japan’s Fujitsu says smartphones can take your pulse

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03:38 PM March 18th, 2013

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March 18th, 2013 03:38 PM

A Fujitsu engineer demonstrates new technology, a the real-time pulse monitor system with facial imaging technology, that ustilises a web-camera in PCs or smartphones, at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo on March 18, 2013. Fujitsu develped the technology to measure the user’s pulse via the brightness of their face. AFP / YOSHIKAZU TSUNO

TOKYO — A smartphone that can take the pulse of a user just by looking at his or her face was unveiled in Japan on Monday.

Technology giant Fujitsu plans to put the invention to practical use within a year, enabling people at work or at home to track their health and collect data for analysis without wearing special devices.

The smartphone works by measuring variations in the brightness of a person’s face caused by the flow of blood.

Researchers say countless tiny blood vessels run through the face, enabling monitoring of haemoglobin which absorbs green light. Haemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that contains iron and transports oxygen.

Simply pointing a camera at a person’s face for as little as five seconds will enable pulse-taking, while the technology automatically filters out the effect of head movements or changes caused by standing up quickly.

“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 in a press release.

“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.”

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