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Google will be adding a heart and respiratory rate monitor to the fit app on pixel phones this month. They also plan to add the same feature on other android phones in the future. This feature measures respiratory rate by monitoring the rise and fall of a user’s chest. While heart rate is measured by tracking color change as blood moves through the fingertip. Both features depend highly on the phone cameras to work.
Google says the features are only expected to track the overall wellness of users and nothing more.
The front camera should face the user’s head and chest to measure the respiratory rate. While the user’s finger should be placed on the rear camera to measure the heart rate.
How does it work on Pixel Phones?
Jack Po, a product manager at Google Health said the feature mimics a doctor’s way of determining a patient’s respiratory rate, which is by counting the rise and fall of the chest.
However, the heat rate data gotten from Google’s app is less comprehensive to that collected from wearable devices. This is because wearables continuously monitor your heart rate as one goes through their daily life.
Therefore, this feature is cool for users without wearables and for users who don’t often put on their wearables but are always with their phones.
“If users were to take their heart rate once a week, they would actually get a lot of value,” Po said. “They’ll get a lot of value in tracking whether their heart rate might be improving, if exercise is paying off.”
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Benefit of these Features
Jack Po justified the incorporation of these functions to be beneficial by saying “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.”
Jiening Zhan, a technical lead at Google Health said Internal studies on Pixel phones showed that the respiratory rate feature was accurate within one breath per minute both for people with and without health conditions. She further said the feature was tested on people with a range of skin tones, and it had a similar accuracy for light and dark skin. A Scientific paper will be published by the team with the data obtained from their study.
The team plans to study how well the feature will work on other phones. This will be done before making the features available on other Android phones.
However, these features do not need Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance. This is because Google is not claiming that it can perform medical functions.