New App Uses Your iPhone Camera as a Touch-Free Biosensor

Cardiio/Screen capture

What's the next obvious role for our oh-so-smartphones? Why, to become Tricorders, of course.

Adding biosensor capabilities to mobile phones could really change the face of medical applications for mobiles, and one big step in that direction is a new app which can turn your iPhone into a heart rate monitor.

The Cardiio app, based on research conducted at the MIT Media Lab, can accurately measure heart rates to "within 3 bpm of a clinical pulse oximeter" and tracks your data across time, so you can find and compare trends in your heart rate over days or weeks. And it works by using the camera to detect your heart rate.

Yeah, it's pretty much magic to me, but here's how the makers of Cardiio explain it:

"Every time your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face. Using sophisticated software, your iPhone's front camera can track these tiny changes in reflected light that are not visible to the human eye and calculate your heart beat!"

Cardiio is available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch for $4.99 at the App Store.

Tags: Apps | Gadgets | Health | iPhone

Best of TreeHugger