Catch heartbeats without sensors as you go to bed

Tokyo, Jan 25 (IANS) A team of Japanese researchers has come up with a new technology to measure heartbeats remotely, in real time, and under controlled conditions with as much accuracy as electrocardiographs (ECGs).

According to researchers from Kyoto University’s centre of innovation, together with Panasonic Corp, heartbeats can now be measured without placing sensors on the body with a remote sensing system.

It combines millimeter-wave spread-spectrum radar technology and a unique signal analysis algorithm that identify signals from the body.

“Taking measurements with sensors on the body can be stressful and troublesome, because you have to stop what you are doing,” said Hiroyuki Sakai, researcher at Panasonic, in a statement.

“What we tried to make was something that would offer people a way to monitor their body in a casual and relaxed environment,” he added.

The added convenience of remote sensing, the team believes, will be an incentive for people to monitor their health status for their own benefit.

Heartbeats aren’t the only signals the radar catches. The body sends out all sorts of signals at once, including breathing and body movement. It is a chaotic soup of information.

“Our algorithm differentiates all of that. It extracts waves characteristic of heart beats from the radar signal and calculates their intervals,” added Toru Sato, professor of communications and computer engineering at Kyoto University.

“Now that we know that remote sensing is possible, we will need to make the measurement ability more robust so that the system can monitor subjects in various age ranges and in many different contexts,” Sato added.

The technology will allow for the development of “casual sensing” — taking measurements as people go about their daily activities, for instance, when they are going to bed or getting ready to start the day.

The team hopes that the remote sensing system, with further experimentation, will be put to practical use in the near future.

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