Non-contact measurement of emotional and physiological changes in heart rate from a webcam [article]

Christopher R. Madan, Tyler Harrison, Kyle E. Mathewson
2017 bioRxiv   pre-print
Heart rate, measured in beats per minute (BPM), can be used as an index of an individual's physiological state. Each time the heart beats, blood is expelled and travels through the body. This blood flow can be detected in the face using a standard webcam that is able to pick up subtle changes in color that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Due to the light absorption spectrum of blood, we are able to detect differences in the amount of light absorbed by the blood traveling just below the skin
more » ... e., photoplethysmography). By modulating emotional and physiological stress -- i.e., viewing arousing images and sitting vs. standing, respectively -- to elicit changes in heart rate, we explored the feasibility of using a webcam as a psychophysiological measurement of autonomic activity. We found a high level of agreement between established physiological measures, electrocardiogram (ECG), and blood pulse oximetry, and heart rate estimates obtained from the webcam. We thus suggest webcams can be used as a non-invasive and readily available method for measuring psychophysiological changes, easily integrated into existing stimulus presentation software and hardware setups.
doi:10.1101/179812 fatcat:lwfq5xfbcvaf3gej3fchk3bsoa