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Philips developing camera that can monitor your vital signs just by watching you

If Philips' Contactless Monitoring project comes to fruition, a camera paired with a computer will be able to deliver an accurate reading of your heart and breathing rates.

Philips Contactless Monitoring
Jacob Krol/CNET

Philips was here in New York recently to show off some future health technology as part of its Innovation Experience.

There was some interesting stuff, but one thing that stood out was a "contactless monitoring" system that was able to show your pulse and breathing rate without anything touching your body. All the monitoring is done with a camera, which feeds images to a computer running Philips' proprietary software. The software is able to detect changes in your skin color -- imperceptible to the human eye -- to get a pulse reading. It can also calculate your breathing rate from subtle changes in body movement.

While this technology is still in the research and development phase it may show the future of medicine. Some day these cameras could be set up in hospitals, doctors' offices or even in your own home, with a smartphone perhaps serving as the monitoring device.

Philips is still developing the technology, but the Dutch company has already done laboratory studies and expects to undertake clinical studies in the coming months.