Fujitsu has developed technology to measure a person's pulse in real time using a built-in camera in a PC, smartphone or tablet.
The technology detects a person's pulse by measuring variations in the brightness of the face thought to be caused by the flow of blood.
It is based on the characteristic of haemoglobin in blood, which absorbs green light.
Fujitsu says it requires no special hardware and can measure pulse rate 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 minimise the effects of irrelevant data on measurements.
Fujitsu says the technology has a wide range of potential uses, including health monitoring and maintenance as well as security applications.
The technology is to be showcased at the 2013 General Conference of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers in Gifu, Japan.
Fujitsu says it wants 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.
The aim is that by using smartphones, tablets or computers, users will be able to track their health, collect the resulting data, upload it to the cloud, and perform real-time analyses.
Pulse monitoring typically requires specialised equipment that must be worn and operated with some care.
Fujitsu decided to develop an automated way to measure pulse that minimises the inconvenience of hooking up and operating the equipment as well as sitting still while it works.
Based on the fact that haemoglobin in blood absorbs green light, Fujitsu Laboratories developed the 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 colour 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 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, measuring pulse in as little as five seconds.
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 minimising the impact of irrelevant data.
This technology relieves people from wearing or operating any specialised equipment or sitting still for long periods in order to have their pulse measured, and makes it possible to continually monitor pulse.
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.
Fujitsu wants to put this technology into practical use this year for a variety of application scenarios such as a security or health monitoring and maintenance solution, building it into smartphones, tablets, and PCs.