Aug 31 AT 10:07 AM Clark Wimberly 32 Comments

Check your pulse with Instant Heart Rate

Lately it seems like every few days I discover something in the Market (usually through AppAware) that leaves me highly impressed or scratching my head. Instant Heart Rate did both.

Instant Heart Rate uses your phone’s built in camera (and flash, if you’ve got one) to measure the color of the surface of the skin on your fingertip. In doing so, the app is able to detect tiny shifts in color each time your heart beats. When sitting still and in good light, I’ve found the app to be a near perfect stand-in for a real heart monitor. It really can dial into your pulse, even displaying the beats visually on-screen with a blinking heart icon.

I haven’t tested Instant Heart Rate without the flash- I assume it wouldn’t perform nearly as well. With the flash though, my fingertip was glowing bright red and the app seemed to have no problem picking up my pulse.

There are a handful of other heart rate apps in the Market, but most of them rely on 3rd party hardware (like a bluetooth heart monitor) or on manually entering your pulse/beats. As far as I know, this is the only one doing it using just the phone hardware.

You guys getting accurate readings with this thing? The comments in the Market look fairly positive but I’m always interested in what our readers think. Go try the app then vote in the poll below- I want to know how accurate it is in a large sample test.

Clark is a developer living in Austin, Texas. He runs ClarkLab, a small web firm with his wife, Angie. He's a big fan of usability, standards, and clean design.

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