Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

A new set of software algorithms can amplify aspects of a video and reveal what is normally undetectable to human eyesight, making it possible to, for example, measure someone’s pulse by shooting a video of him and capturing the way blood is flowing across his face.

The software process, called “Eulerian video magnification” by the MIT computer scientists who developed the program, breaks apart the visual elements of every frame of a video and reconstructs them with the algorithm, which can amplify aspects of the video that are undetectable by the naked eye. These aspects could include the variations in redness in a man’s face caused by his pulse. “Just like optics has enabled [someone] to see things normally too small, computation can enable people to see things not visible to the naked eye,” says MIT computer scientist Fredo Durand, one of the coauthors of a paper about the research.

UC Berkeley professor Maneesh Agrawala, who has spent his career in visualization and computer graphics, says he is impressed with the work. “The many examples in the video they provide are really nice examples of visualizing things that are difficult to do otherwise,” he says.

Durand and his colleagues plan to make their software code available to others this summer. He predicts the primary application will be for remote medical diagnostics, but it could be used to detect any small motion, so that it might let, for example, structural engineers measure the way wind makes a building sway or deform slightly. 

He adds that any video footage can be used, although depending on the quality of the camera that captured the footage, noise and artifacts such as graininess will also be amplified. So the higher quality the footage, the better the outcome using the program. “What’s really nice about this technique is that it can just take standard video, from just about any device, and then process it in a way that finds this hidden information in the signal,” Agrawala says.

3 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Conor Myhrvold | Technology Review

Tagged: Computing, MIT, video, computer science

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me