Smile! We know how fast your heart is beating

Using ordinary video, the system was able to measure heart rate of masked and heavily blurred people.

(Credit: MIT)

Have you ever noticed your head rocking back and forth very slightly when you sit still? That’s the effect of blood rushing up to feed your brain.

Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers can accurately measure that phenomenon on regular video and figure out how fast someone’s heart is beating. They say it might help detect cardiac disease.

The scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory believe the algorithm could be used for video monitoring of patients with sensitive skin, such as newborns or elderly people.

According to the study by Guha Balakrishnan and collaborators (PDF), to be presented at an IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference, the video heart rate method was evaluated on a group of 18 men and women with different skin tones.

The results were “nearly identical” to an electrocardiogram.

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