A World Of Invisible Movements Now Visible
March 3, 2013

A World Of Invisible Movements Now Visible

Scientists capture invisible movements in humans and objects for the first time.

Sit still! It’s something we’ve all told our children at least once. Does it work?

Usually not, but scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) now have a more in depth explanation of why not. Simply put, it’s our pulse.

The movements that our pulse creates in our bodies are usually far too minute for the naked human eye to detect, but they do actually move us slightly. The scientists at MIT are seeking to make that movement visible with some cutting edge technology.

According to Slash Gear, “The amplification process exaggerates the tiny movements made by humans and different objects in order to see a completely new world of movements. The process shows you blood pumping in and out of a human’s face to show that the person’s heart is beating, and it even shows a sleeping baby breathing even though we wouldn’t be able to see it well with the naked eye.”

“The process is done by taking each frame of a video and analyzing every pixel of every frame. It then monitors the pixel’s changes from frame-to-frame to capture slight movement.” For example, as our pulse fills our faces with blood, more blood goes to certain areas than others. The program captures those variations and amplifies them. In the pixels that change, the variation is magnified by as much as 100 times in order to actually show that change. That magnification or exaggeration helps our eyes see the ever-so-minute movements that things make.

Those subtle movements are something we’d never be able to see with just the naked eye, but this technology is opening our eyes to a world of movements we may have never knew existed-literally.

On the surface this may seem like some weak special effects, but it’s got a practical application, and it could save lives one day.

The MIT team has hopes that this process can be a useful diagnostic tool in the medical field “for pulse monitoring and seeing where blood flows in the body to look for asymmetries.” The magnification would allow doctors to see issues and possibly detect medical problems relative to blood flow sooner.

“The technology could also be used for newborn infants to monitor their vital signs without hooking up various machines that could annoy the baby.”

The technology isn’t only for medical purposes though. It could go a long way in researching a number of things. The first thing that comes to my mind is, those guys at Myth Busters would sure love to get their hands on this!

In the YouTube video below, the viewer can see a candle burning. The flame juts around slightly, and that we can see with our naked eyes, but the video with MIT’s technology applied shows the molecules above the flame dancing all around.

MIT Computer Program Reveals Invisible Motion in Video

I personally don’t know everything it could be used for, but I suppose the possibilities are only limited by our imagination and the development of the code. Aside from my jokes about the Myth Buster guys, I think this could also have uses in the automotive industry for diagnostics. But I’m just a part time blogger; I’ll leave it to the big boys!

“For now, the team (MIT) has released the open source code for non-commercial purposes and they’re hoping that the technology takes off soon.”

Image Credit: Barbol / Shutterstock

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