MIT grad student Ming-Zher Poh has managed to give the humble webcam a beefy functionality upgrade without too much extra work. In fact, your webcam could tell how healthy your heart is just by looking at you.
That's right: Poh doesn't need to get under your skin or even touch you to figure out what's going on — it takes a pretty weird route, actually. Using an open-source face-tracking program, Poh taught his camera to study someone's face and, according to MIT,measure "slight variations in brightness produced by the flow of blood through blood vessels in the face." This caused Poh the most trouble: measuring a pulse was easy once he determined how to account for variations in lighting and image quality.
It works so well that it matched up with the results of FDA-approved devices, yet Poh's uses the kind of tech you can find in most American homes. That means that a system such as this would be easy to implement. We could install them everywhere from a mirror in someone's home (as seen above) to a hospital for cheap.
Poh suggests that such noninvasive monitoring could prove useful for situations where attaching sensors to the body would be difficult or uncomfortable, such as for monitoring burn victims or newborns. It could also be used for initial telemedicine screening tests over the Internet using a patient's own webcam or even cell-phone camera.
That's not all, though. In the future the system could do much more, Poh predicts, from finding out more about your health to even expanding its uses, such as crunching that data to find out if, say, you're nervous and lying about something, like a super-cheap lie detector.
Check it out in the video below: