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Measuring vital signs at a glance

With an ordinary webcam like the ones that people use today to keep in touch with loved ones, parents may one day monitor their babies' vital signs, and doctors may do a quick blood pressure check.

Technology being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turns a low-cost camera into a kind of remote stethoscope that never has to touch a patient's body. In work published in May in the journal Optics Express, a team led by Ming-Zher Poh, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, demonstrated a way to monitor a person's pulse by tracking minute changes in the way light reflects off their face as blood flows beneath the skin.

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