Amazingly, it’s possible to count your heart rate just by observing tiny changes in the color of your skin, caused by the movement of blood through the body. Even more amazingly, it’s possible to detect these changes using the terrible camera in the iPad 2.
The app that performs this double-rainbow of technological magic is Philips Vital Signs Camera. It uses the front-facing camera of the iPad to both track the rising and falling of your chest to determine breathing rate, and the small changes in skin color to track heart rate.
Incredibly, it actually seems to work.
I downloaded the app and tried it out. You need to sit still in a well-lit area and make sure your face and chest are in the correct parts of the screen (there are colored rectangular guides to help). That’s it. The default settings stop when a measurement has been determined, and you can just read them or inflict them on your friends via Facebook or Twitter.
It’s certainly no replacement for a proper doctor, but as a technological demonstration, it’s surprisingly impressive. The app is available now, for $1.