The increasing convenience and integration of health technologies can empower people to take a more active role in managing their health.

Imagine if the next time you checked yourself out in the mirror, your reflection talked back, but rather than telling you how good your new haircut looked or offering style advice, it gave you a health assessment instead. Your daily primping and preening could take on an entirely new level of import in our lives, serving as a first line in our bid to catch potential health flags before they become serious, and with current technologies, this reality isn’t too far off.

Ming-Zher Poh, an electrical engineer in the Affective Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab, spends his time designing intelligent tools that empower individuals to take the management of their wellness into their own hands. He has developed a mirror that is able to monitor vital signs and show the inner health of the person standing in front of it. When your heart beats, it sends a pulse of blood through your blood vessels and to your face. Because blood absorbs light, the mirror is able to use a simple webcam, same as the one found in your smartphone, to record the fluctuation in reflected light coming off of your skin.  Although the change in brightness is minute, the data can then be translated in to a heart-rate reading via algorithm, and the results are instantly displayed right before a person’s eyes.

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