Towards photoplethysmography based estimation of instantaneous heart rate during physical activity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Recently numerous methods have been proposed for estimating average heart rate using photoplethysmography (PPG) during physical activity, overcoming the significant interference that motion causes in PPG traces. We propose a new algorithm framework for extracting instantaneous heart rate from wearable PPG and ECG signals to provide an estimate of heart rate variability during exercise. Methods: For ECG signals we propose a new spectral masking approach which modifies a particle filter tracking algorithm, and for PPG signals constrains the instantaneous frequency obtained from the Hilbert transform to a region of interest around a candidate heart rate measure. Performance is verified using accelerometry and wearable ECG and PPG data from subjects while biking and running on a treadmill. Results: Instantaneous heart rate provides more information than average heart rate alone. The instantaneous heart rate can be extracted during motion to an accuracy of 1.75 beats per minute (bpm) from PPG signals and 0.27 bpm from ECG signals. Conclusion: Estimates of instantaneous heart rate can now be generated from PPG signals during motion. These estimates can provide more information on the human body during exercise. Significance: Instantaneous heart rate provides a direct measure of vagal nerve and sympathetic nervous system activity and is of substantial use in a number of analyses and applications. Previously it has not been possible to estimate instantaneous heart rate from wrist wearable PPG signals

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Early online date13 Feb 2017
StatePublished - 2017