A new video recording method that amplifies seemingly invisible motion could lead to a touch-free vital signs monitor, and offer a new tool for engineers to gauge stresses on bridges and tunnels in real time. Ben Gruber reports.
Neal Wadhwa is running an experiment. (UPSOUND - BEEP) He says that vibrations produced by the speaker will make the glass vibrate - the only problem is that it's invisible to the naked eye. But using what he and a team of researchers at MIT are calling a motion microscope the wine glass is seen in a whole new light. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEAL WADHWA, GRADUATE STUDENT IN APPLIED MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE, MIT, SAYING: "These are things that people have never seen before and we are making them visible. The motion microscope is a way to visualize small motions that are seemingly invisible to the naked eye in videos." Video is fed to a computer running a new type of software that tracks tiny changes within the video pixel by pixel. Those changes are then amplified and imposed on to the original video. The results are striking - blood flow and heart rate can be visualized on a man's face by tracking the seemingly invisible changes in skin tone. The breathing rate of a new-born baby can be seen magnified, allowing for easy monitoring. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEAL WADHWA, GRADUATE STUDENT IN APPLIED MATHEMATICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE, MIT, SAYING: "You can create a non-contact vital signs monitor so you don't need to attach anything to a person and you will still be able to figure out their heart rate and respiration rate." Outside the medical field, the motion microscope can be used as a new tool to inspect bridges and tunnels for irregular vibrations and hard-to-see structural damage. Wadhwa admits that some of the videos created border on creepy - like this one of a pregnant belly in motion or an eye moving in its socket. Creepy or not, the researchers say their technology opens up a new window into a world that is constantly in motion.