Fujitsu Laboratories has touted the latest innovation to come from its labs - the ability to take your pulse via your smartphone, tablet or laptop, using nothing more than its built-in camera.
The firm said it takes just five seconds to carry out the tests and works by measuring the colour of a person's face to detect the flow of blood.
It said that it does this by measuring a characteristic in haemoglobin in blood that can absorb green light which the application uses to take it readings. First it shoots a video of the person's face and calculating the values for red, green and blue colour components of different areas of the face for each frame.
Then it removes the irrelevant data and extracts the waveform of the green colour spectrum. The peaks in this data form the pulse reading.
The firm said it believes such a development could have a wide-range of uses, from the obvious healthcare benefits, to use for security controls by using the pulse measurement to identify ill people or those acting suspiciously.
While the idea behind it is impressive and underlines the value of research and development, the implications of your pulse being measured through devices as everyday as smartphones and tablets, and the security controls it could be used for, are unnerving.
No doubt privacy advocates will be considering the wider societal implications of such a development with interest. The issue of being able to take medical tests without needing to gain patient consent is certainly problematic - even more so if the pulse information was used in something like a lie detector test.
More details on the technology will be presented at the 2013 General Conference of the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers, on 19 March, in Japan.
19 Mar 2013
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