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X-ray vision for the vitals - new wireless technology measures heart rate and breathing through walls
16 June 2014
These days there's perhaps no hotter tech topic than wearable sensors. Earlier this month, for instance, Apple announced a new “Health Kit” app for smartphones that tracks a person's health. But events such as Fitbit's recent recall of more than 1 million fitness bands over user skin irritations — and research published last week contending that health-trackers may be no more effective than a $25 pedometer — suggest that wearables have their drawbacks.
Imagine, then, if there was a technology that monitors your vital signs without touching your body — potentially even from another room.
Such science-fiction fantasies are becoming a reality, thanks to research conducted at MIT’s Wireless Center, hosted in the Computer Science and Artificial intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).
Last year, a CSAIL team developed a wireless system that can track movement through a wall. Their latest report demonstrates that they can now detect gestures as subtle as the rise and fall of a person’s chest. From that, they can determine a person's heart rate with 99 percent accuracy. The research could be used for health-tracking apps, baby monitors, and for the military and law enforcement.