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BPM phone uses camera to measure heart rate

Health phone
'Healthy' phones that do more than just make calls are becoming popular in Japan

Japanese mobile phones are very hit and miss – some have fantastic (mostly network-related) services, yet are ugly as sin, while others look great but offer very little else.

Now, however, a new category is becoming apparent, as the number of simple-to-use handsets from major manufacturers is increasing, while included functions aimed at their elderly users become more useful than the music and video players found on normal models.

10K steps a day

A perfect example is the new F884iES, a mobile made by Fujitsu for market-leader NTT DoCoMo's Raku Raku (Easy Peasy) range of phones for OAPs.

The new handset creates a daily health diary for its owner by combining information gathered from two sources built into the phone.

A pedometer measures how far the user walks each day – the Japanese government recommends 10,000 paces daily for retired people, who can often be seen clutching dedicated pedometers in the street, incidentally – and adds it to data from an ingenious bit of camera trickery.

Camera magic

The phone's camera can be used to measure blood flow in a fingertip pressed to the lens, which translates into an accurate heart-rate reading.

Together, the data are graphed over time, providing a useful, yet simple, tool that could easily be shown to a health professional at a check-up or after a problem has arisen.