Medical Mirror Uses a Webcam to Determine Vital Signs

By Sam Cook

A student at the Harvard-MIT Heath Sciences and Technology program has used an ordinary webcam to determine a subject's pulse.

It’s amazing what video from an ordinary webcam is capable of when it’s processed the right way. Ming-Zher Poh, a student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, has taken simple low res imaging tech and created a “medical mirror” that not only displays your image, but also your pulse. And that’s only the beginning. Poh beleives he’ll eventually be able to use the same rig to determine blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.

One remarkable thing about Poh’s system, and the reason it works so easily, is that it can extract needed visual information even if the target isn’t still—or even if there are multiple targets in view. Poh adapted audio signal-processing techniques to work around visual “noise,” like movement and lighting variations.

Even if this kind of tech doesn’t make it into everyone’s bathroom mirror, it would certainly make an interesting option for future WiiFit-like games, since many modern gaming devices can be equipped with cameras.