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When Microsoft first announced the Kinect they made much of the ability to read the heart rate of users by simply using the camera of the sensor.
Now scientists from Microsoft Research have brought the technology to the Microsoft HoloLens via a simple app called Cardiolens.
The app is able to display the heart rate of both the person using the camera and the person being looked at, all by simply using the video feed, with interesting implications beyond the mixed reality device.
Using the video feed, and by splitting it into primary colours, the researchers are able to extract the heart rate of the person being looked at, his breathing rate and also interbeat variability. The data is then displayed in the field of view of the HoloLens wearer.
Interestingly the same video can also be used to detect the heart rate of the wearer, by detecting the tiny movements of your head due to your heart beating, reflected by small movements in the video feed detected via optical flow.
The system is very accurate, being off only about 1.5 beats per minute compared to electrodes on your skin.
Microsoft imagines the technology could be used by surgeons to detect perfusion of transplanted organs, or by coaches to see how hard their athletes are working, but I can see a suitably shrunken version of the device being a hit on the dating circuit, where you could see if both you and your date are keeping their cool.
Interestingly given that all the data is recoverable only from the video stream, the technology suggests with suitable high quality video we could see the heart rate of actors performing or politicians delivering a speech, or even for a handheld device the heart rate of the person recording the video, which certainly has many Brave New World implications.
Read more about the science at Microsoft Research’s page here.