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On the pulse

In Covid times video calls have become a staple of school life – and medical practices. Describing symptoms like fatigue and headaches is easy, but how to check vital functions?

Using callers’ smartphone or computer cameras, a new state-of-the-art system employs real-time video to measure changes in how light is reflected off a person’s face, which is connected to changes in blood flow.

Changes are then converted to pulse and respiration rate respectively. Accuracy can be affected by different backgrounds, skin color, or lighting conditions, but machine learning offers scope for improvement.

Further testing aims at increasing accuracy in people with darker skin tones.

The system runs on a caller’s device, rather than in the Cloud. A win for patient privacy.

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