Enter Cardiio, a startup and graduate of the Rock Health incubator. Founded by a team of Ph.Ds out of MIT’s Media Lab, the company has built a $4.99 heart rate monitoring app that doesn’t require you to touch the iPhone’s camera. It actually doesn’t require any contact aside from holding the phone so that the front-facing camera captures your face. From that, Cardiio’s sensors can pick up minute changes in the color of your face that indicate heart rate.
“We can measure the amount of light reflected across your face,” said co-founder Ming-Zher Poh. “The more blood that flows into your face, the more it absorbs light. This is reflected off your face every time your heart beats and the camera is actually good enough to pick it up.”
Like other heart-rate monitoring apps, Cardiio does long-term tracking so you can see how your resting heart rate has changed over the past month or more. It also can compare you to the population average.