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Biomed Opt Express. 2015 Apr 6;6(5):1565-88. doi: 10.1364/BOE.6.001565. eCollection 2015 May 1.

DistancePPG: Robust non-contact vital signs monitoring using a camera.

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Electrical and Computer Engineering, RICE University, Houston, TX, USA.


Vital signs such as pulse rate and breathing rate are currently measured using contact probes. But, non-contact methods for measuring vital signs are desirable both in hospital settings (e.g. in NICU) and for ubiquitous in-situ health tracking (e.g. on mobile phone and computers with webcams). Recently, camera-based non-contact vital sign monitoring have been shown to be feasible. However, camera-based vital sign monitoring is challenging for people with darker skin tone, under low lighting conditions, and/or during movement of an individual in front of the camera. In this paper, we propose distancePPG, a new camera-based vital sign estimation algorithm which addresses these challenges. DistancePPG proposes a new method of combining skin-color change signals from different tracked regions of the face using a weighted average, where the weights depend on the blood perfusion and incident light intensity in the region, to improve the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of camera-based estimate. One of our key contributions is a new automatic method for determining the weights based only on the video recording of the subject. The gains in SNR of camera-based PPG estimated using distancePPG translate into reduction of the error in vital sign estimation, and thus expand the scope of camera-based vital sign monitoring to potentially challenging scenarios. Further, a dataset will be released, comprising of synchronized video recordings of face and pulse oximeter based ground truth recordings from the earlobe for people with different skin tones, under different lighting conditions and for various motion scenarios.


(170.0110) Imaging systems; (170.1470) Blood or tissue constituent monitoring; (170.3660) Light propagation in tissues; (280.0280) Remote sensing and sensors

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