Who likes going to the doctor? Anyone...anyone? But health checkups can the difference detecting the beginnings of a health issue and tragically becoming the victim of one. What if you could get a health diagnostic just standing in front of a mirror while brushing your teeth, shaving, putting on your clothes?
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology graduate student Ming-Zher Poh and collaborator, Daniel McDuff, have developed a prototype for a mirror and webcam system that is able to monitor pulse, respiration and soon blood pressure. How does it work, you ask?
The system measures slight variations in brightness produced by the flow of blood through blood vessels in the face. Public-domain software is used to identify the position of the face in the image, and then the digital information from this area is broken down into the separate red, green and blue portions of the video image. In tests, the pulse data derived from this setup were compared with the pulse determined by a commercially available FDA-approved blood-volume pulse sensor.
The noninvasive concept could easily be adapted for bathroom mirrors and with an internet connections, patients with ongoing conditions could be monitored by their healthcare practitioner from afar, allowing for feedback and adjustments to their prescriptions or daily routines. On the consumer end, perhaps in the near future similar devices will allow people to self-monitor high blood pressure, stress and the connections to sleep, health and weight; similar systems could be adapted for dental and ocular health. And you thought those HD webcams were just for Chat Roulette!