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Invisible Motion

Invisible Motion

Software amplifies motions impossible to see with the naked eye.

Invisible Motion

Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 13:30

Karin Heineman, ISTV Executive Producer

(Inside Science TV) – A video of a man's face may seem ordinary, but now, computer scientists have found a way to detect and exaggerate tiny movements normally invisible to the naked eye making a normal face appear flush with blood flow.

“It turns out that our skin changes its color very, very subtly when the blood flows under the skin...and this is something that can be recorded with a camera," said Michael Rubinstein, a computer scientist at Microsoft New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The computer program developed by Rubinstein while he was a graduate student at MIT intensifies the subtle changes in people and objects otherwise too small to be seen. For example, normal footage of a sleeping baby might capture a movement here or there, but with the enhanced view, the video can capture the baby's chest moving up and down as the child breathes.

The program works by looking at small color changes in videos and magnifies them to make them visible.

“It doesn’t require any special camera," Rubinstein said.

Someday, the software could be used by first responders to monitor the vital signs of victims they cannot reach right away.

Rubinstein said, “It’s exciting in a way that it sort of shows you what more we can do with just cameras.”

Anyone can upload videos to run through the software program on the web at


Get Inside the Science

Researchers Amplify Variations In Video, Making The Invisible Visible

Making The Invisible Visible (video from MIT)

Michael Rubinstein, Microsoft Research (previously at MIT)

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Karin Heineman

Karin Heineman is the executive producer of Inside Science TV.