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Caught on camera: Fujitsu touts anti-terrorist pulse-taking tech

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Japanese boffins at Fujitsu have announced a new imaging technology that can take a user’s pulse simply by monitoring the changing brightness of their face, and in so doing potentially stop shifty souls at the airport.

The ingenious video-based system captures the subject’s face, calculating the average value of red, green and blue colours in a pre-determined part of the face for each frame, before working out the brightness waveform from the green component and discarding other data.

This is important because haemoglobin absorbs green light, so a pulse can be calculated from the peaks in that brightness waveform, created as blood flows through the face, Fujitsu said.

Impressively, all of this can be done in as little as five seconds, lending it potential security applications by flagging people acting “suspiciously” at airports or public events, according to the Japanese IT giant.

Presumably, if it were used in these scenarios some work would have to be done to make sure aviophobics are not mistaken for nervy terrorists.

Fujitsu is also touting the facial imaging tech as a consumer application using PC webcams or smartphone cameras to help users monitor their health and understand how it changes over time.

The firm's vision for a "Human Centric Intelligent Society" imagines customers will upload and manage this kind of data in the cloud through a dedicated health monitoring service. The firm has already unveiled plans for a similar kind of service for pet dogs.

It also announced the Hada Memori smartphone, a device designed to let owners monitor their skin tone.

This is one of a series of planned devices to monitor stress levels, exercise habits and even sleeping patterns, with the anonymised data sent up to the cloud where Fujitsu hopes to sell it on to beauty product manufacturers.

Being peered at by cameras is not alien to Asian airports, as some have used heat sensors to detect passengers with elevated temperatures as a way of detecting possible carriers of SARS or other infectious diseases. ®

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