Microsoft is working on new technology to analyze someone’s pulse simply using a video made on a smartphone. It’s not just the manufacturers of wristbands and smartwatches that are looking to capitalize on heart health. Also in the field of consumer electronics, Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it is working on a new system to track your pulse, but also your breathing, this time using a simple smartphone camera.
A group of researchers from Microsoft Research, the University of Washington, and OctoML worked together to develop a new way to track this data using not a heart rate monitor, but a simple video-based camera. “This approach uses everyday camera technology such as webcams or portable devices,” says Redmond’s firm.
To do this, Microsoft uses a video of the person’s face and, depending on the pixel changes and the reflections of the light is able to assess the person’s heart rate. “A smartphone camera can capture this reflected light and changes in pixel intensity can be used to trace the underlying sources of these changes, such as the person’s pulse or breathing,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
It is thus a system close to what we already have in the field of watches and wristbands connected with heart rate monitors based on photoplethysmography, capable of emitting and capturing green light reflected according to the heart rate of the user.
MUCH MORE ACCESSIBLE DATA FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC
For Microsoft, the main interest of this technology is its adoption by the general public. Pulse-measuring watches and wristbands — let alone electrocardiogram-equipped devices — are still rare on the market, unlike smartphones or webcams. “The development of these video-based contactless vital sign measurements presents an opportunity for large-scale monitoring of physiological data,” Microsoft believes. For the time being, this is still only used in the context of research. Microsoft is well aware that such data should be particularly protected since it would associate health data with the faces of users. It is therefore not known when the general public will be able to access it directly on a smartphone, PC, or tablet.