A wobble of the noggin reveals the workings of the heart | Science News

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A wobble of the noggin reveals the workings of the heart

Pulse can be measured by examining a video of subtle head motions

4:31pm, June 26, 2013

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A little jiggle of the head may be all that doctors need to measure pulse. 

A new computer algorithm can detect the nods, bobs and wiggles people make as blood rushes in and out of their skulls, and then translate the motions into heart rate.

Results from the motion-sensing technique are nearly identical to those from an electrocardiogram, a test that uses electrodes stuck to the skin to pick up signals from the heart, report MIT computer scientist Guha Balakrishnan and colleagues. They will present the work June 27 at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference in Portland, Ore.

Using a video, the researchers’ algorithm tracks up to 1,000 points on a person’s face, zeroes in on the regular twitches that accompany blood pumping to the head and then calculates heart rate from the timing of the twitches. Though the motions are barely perceptible by eye, Balakrishnan am

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