MIT smartphone knows your heartbeat from across the room (Wired UK)


Most fitness trackers take the form of a wearable wrist band — which many users find unsightly or cumbersome. But now researchers say that heart rate, breathing and other physiological measurements can be taken from a smartphone that sits in your bag or pocket — without even touching your body.

The BioPhone, developed by researchers at MIT, derives biological signals from your phone’s accelerometer. They claim that it can “capture the small movements of your body that result from the beating of your heart”.  

This data is, according to researchers, captured during moments when you’re not moving, meaning small vibrations can be picked up without interference from larger bodily movements. This could, they say, lead to better monitoring of things like stress level and culminate in a phone notification telling you to try breathing exercises or to call a loved one. 

To measure the utility of BioPhone, researchers asked participants to stand, sit and lie down with a smartphone in their pocket. The data gathered from the smartphones were extremely similar, and in many instances the same, as FDA-approved heart and breathing-rate sensors — heart rates were off by more than one beat per minute, while breathing rates were off by a quarter of a breath per minute.

Phone sensors are still unable to measure data when the phone is in a different spot, such as in the back pocket of a pair of jeans. The further away the device is from the heart, the harder it is for it to accurately track your vital signs.

The work is partner of a larger project by the MIT Media Lab to develop technology that can help users track stress levels in “a less obtrusive way”. They have also developed a project called BioGlass, using Google Glass to track biological signals by using data from the accelerometer and camera of the presently mothballed wearable device. 

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13 November 2015 | 3:57 pm – Source:


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