Researchers Make a Video Camera to Measure Heartbeat

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 14:26

Researchers at Utah State University have developed a video camera which estimates heart rate using a specialized software.

The system processes the color data and computes an average over regions of the image where skin is visible on the face, neck or arms. This contactless monitoring system could revolutionize medical equipment and consumer products including baby monitors and exercise gear. A future version of the inventors' design could even replace hospital tools that monitor blood pressure or blood oxygen levels, Phys.org reports.

This camera was invented by Professor of electrical engineering Jake Gunther and his former student Nate Ruben are the inventors of a USU-patented technology, "When your heart circulates blood through your arteries and veins, the light absorbed by your skin changes by measurable amounts. You can't see it with the naked eye, but when our system processes the images from a camera, the changes are obvious."

The idea for the heart rate estimation technology came when Ruben and his wife had their first child in 2012. Like most new mothers, Ruben's wife constantly checked on the child as he slept. All those trips to the crib gave Ruben an idea: make a better baby monitor.

The inventors are expanding their patented technology with the creation of a new company called Photorithm Inc. Gunther and Ruben are also developing a new baby monitor system called Smartbeat that uses similar software to detect breathing in a sleeping infant. They say the technology will be a game changer.

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