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Google’s Pixels will read your heart rate and respiratory rate with their cameras


Google is soon adding some interesting new features to its Fit app for its Pixel smartphones. You’ll be able to measure your heart rate by placing a finger on the rear camera, which reminds us of a fad from many years ago in the Android world.

This works by tracking color change as blood moves through your fingertip. On the other hand, measuring your respiratory rate works with the selfie camera, where you position yourself within a frame and then just breathe.

The software will monitor the rise and fall of your chest and infer the rate from there. A Google Health product manager explains that doctors count a patient’s respiratory rate in the same way, and the company’s machine learning technique employed here is trying to emulate that.

Google's Pixels will read your heart rate and respiratory rate with their cameras

“A lot of people, especially in disadvantaged economic classes right now, don’t have things like wearables, but would still really benefit from the ability to be able to track their breathing rate, heart rate, et cetera”, the Google PM said.

According to Google’s internal studies, the respiratory rate feature is accurate within one breath per minute, for people both with and without health conditions. The heart rate readings were accurate within 2%. The features were tested on people with a range of skin tones, and had similar accuracy.

These may make it to non-Pixel phones in the future, but Google first wants to study how well they would work on other devices.

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