Robust heart rate from fitness videos

W. Wang, A.C. den Brinker, S. Stuijk, G. de Haan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)
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Remote photoplethysmography (rPPG) enables contactless heart-rate monitoring using a regular video camera. Objective: This paper aims to improve the rPPG technology targeting continuous heart-rate measurement during fitness exercises. The fundamental limitation of the existing (multi-wavelength) rPPG methods is that they can suppress at most n - 1 independent distortions by linearly combining n wavelength color channels. Their performance are highly restricted when more than n - 1 independent distortions appear in a measurement, as typically occurs in fitness applications with vigorous body motions. Approach: To mitigate this limitation, we propose an effective yet very simple method that algorithmically extends the number of possibly suppressed distortions without using more wavelengths. Our core idea is to increase the degrees-of-freedom of noise reduction by decomposing the n wavelength camera-signals into multiple orthogonal frequency bands and extracting the pulse-signal per band-basis. This processing, namely Sub-band rPPG (SB), can suppress different distortion-frequencies using independent combinations of color channels. Main results: A challenging fitness benchmark dataset is created, including 25 videos recorded from 7 healthy adult subjects (ages from 25 to 40 yrs; six male and one female) running on a treadmill in an indoor environment. Various practical challenges are simulated in the recordings, such as different skin-tones, light sources, illumination intensities, and exercising modes. The basic form of SB is benchmarked against a state-of-the-art method (POS) on the fitness dataset. Using non-biased parameter settings, the average signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) for POS varies in [-4.18, -2.07] dB, for SB varies in [-1.08, 4.77] dB. The ANOVA test shows that the improvement of SB over POS is statistically significant for almost all settings (p-value <0.05). Significance: The results suggest that the proposed SB method considerably increases the robustness of heart-rate measurement in challenging fitness applications, and outperforms the state-of-the-art method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1044
Number of pages22
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017


  • biomedical monitoring
  • fitness
  • healthcare
  • heart rate
  • remote photoplethysmography
  • video processing
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Male
  • Algorithms
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Video Recording
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Photoplethysmography


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