Researchers discover how to measure heartbeats remotely

19th February 2016

Heartbeats can now be measured without placing sensors on the body, say researchers in Japan.

The team, from Kyoto University and electronics company Panasonic, have developed a way to measure heartbeats remotely in real time.

They say that under controlled conditions the wireless reading are as accurate as electrocardiographs.

Eventually people’s heart rates could be measured casually as they go about their daily activities, they say.

"Taking measurements with sensors on the body can be stressful and troublesome, because you have to stop what you're doing," says Hiroyuki Sakai, a researcher at Panasonic. "What we tried to make was something that would offer people a way to monitor their body in a casual and relaxed environment."

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

The remote sensing system combines “millimeter-wave spread-spectrum radar technology” and a an algorithm that identify signals from the body.

Toru Sato, professor of communications and computer engineering at the university said: "Heartbeats aren't the only signals the radar catches. The body sends out all sorts of signals at once, including breathing and body movement..

 "Our algorithm differentiates all of that. It extracts wave characteristics of heart beats from the radar signal and calculates their intervals."

The team hopes the system, with further experimentation, will be put to practical use soon

"We'll need to make the measurement ability more robust so the system can monitor people in various age ranges and in many different contexts," Professor Sato added.