Significance: Non-contact, camera-based heart rate variability estimation is desirable in numerous applications, including medical, automotive, and entertainment. Unfortunately, camera-based HRV accuracy and reliability suffer due to two challenges: (a) darker skin tones result in lower SNR and (b) relative motion induces measurement artifacts.
Aim: We propose an algorithm HRVCam that provides sufficient robustness to low SNR and motion-induced artifacts commonly present in imaging photoplethysmography (iPPG) signals.
Approach: HRVCam computes camera-based HRV from the instantaneous frequency of the iPPG signal. HRVCam uses automatic adaptive bandwidth filtering along with discrete energy separation to estimate the instantaneous frequency. The parameters of HRVCam use the observed characteristics of HRV and iPPG signals.
Results: We capture a new dataset containing 16 participants with diverse skin tones. We demonstrate that HRVCam reduces the error in camera-based HRV metrics significantly (more than 50% reduction) for videos with dark skin and face motion.
Conclusion: HRVCam can be used on top of iPPG estimation algorithms to provide robust HRV measurements making camera-based HRV practical.
The inter-beat-interval (time period of the cardiac cycle) changes slightly for every heartbeat; this variation is measured as Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HRV is presumed to occur due to interactions between the parasym- pathetic and sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, it is sometimes used as an indicator of the stress level of an individual. HRV also reveals some clinical information about cardiac health. Currently, HRV is accurately measured using contact devices such as a pulse oximeter. However, recent research in the field of non-contact imaging Photoplethysmography (iPPG) has made vital sign measurements using just the video recording of any exposed skin (such as a person's face) possible. The current signal processing methods for extracting HRV using peak detection perform well for contact-based systems but have poor performance for the iPPG signals. The main reason for this poor performance is the fact that current methods are sensitive to large noise sources which are often present in iPPG data. Further, current methods are not robust to motion artifacts that are common in iPPG systems. We developed a new algorithm, CameraHRV, for robustly extracting HRV even in low SNR such as is common with iPPG recordings. CameraHRV combined spatial combination and frequency demodulation to obtain HRV from the instantaneous frequency of the iPPG signal. CameraHRV outperforms other current methods of HRV estimation. Ground truth data was obtained from FDA-approved pulse oximeter for validation purposes. CameraHRV on iPPG data showed an error of 6 milliseconds for low motion and varying skin tone scenarios. The improvement in error was 14%. In case of high motion scenarios like reading, watching and talking, the error was 10 milliseconds.