Google Will Use Pixel’s Camera to Measure Heart Rate and Breathing

Google Will Use Pixel’s Camera to Measure Heart Rate and Breathing

Google is rolling out a new set of health monitoring features to Pixel phones, and they could come to more Android devices soon. That’s because Google’s new respiration and heart rate scanning tech is not based on a specialized sensor — it relies on your smartphone’s existing cameras. Like many of Google’s machine learning projects, this one is coming first to Pixel phones, and more phones will probably get it down the line.

According to Google, doctors often use simple visual analysis to estimate a patient’s respiration. Its new health feature works the same way, except it’s an algorithm on your phone that’s doing the calculation. The front-facing camera takes measurements by watching for small movements in the head and chest. The app will show you exactly how to position yourself in the frame to get the most accurate reading.

The heart rate monitoring is a bit different, but it still uses the phone’s camera sensors. Although, it’s the rear camera this time. You simply place your finger over the camera sensor, and the app uses subtle color changes from blood flow to nail down your pulse. It’s similar to the feature Samsung included on its phones for several years, starting with the Galaxy S5. However, Samsung stopped including this additional sensor because it’s not terribly convenient to use. Wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness bands can collect continuous heart rate data.

Google Will Use Pixel’s Camera to Measure Heart Rate and Breathing

Google says there’s still value in collecting health data like this. Not everyone has a wearable device, and even getting one set of health metrics per week is still potentially useful data. The company hopes adding these features to existing smartphones will make it easy for a large number of people to start monitoring their health stats. These new features come with one notable caveat: This is a tool for general wellness and not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Google isn’t making any specific medical claims, so the features don’t need to go through FDA clearance. However, Google says its internal testing has found the camera-based estimates to be very accurate. The pulse readings are within two percent of reality, and the respiration tracker is only off by about one breath per minute. Google also notes that it tested the AI on both light and dark-skinned people with similar results.

Heart rate and respiration tracking will roll out to Pixels this month. Google will continue to evaluate the features and hopes to make them available on other devices in the future.

Continue reading

Protect Your Online Privacy With the 5 Best VPNs
Protect Your Online Privacy With the 5 Best VPNs

Investing in a VPN is a smart choice right now, but the options are vast. To help narrow things down a bit, we've rounded up five of our very favorite consumer services.

How to Build a Face Mask Detector With a Jetson Nano 2GB and AlwaysAI
How to Build a Face Mask Detector With a Jetson Nano 2GB and AlwaysAI

Nvidia continues to make AI at the edge more affordable and easier to deploy. So instead of simply running through the benchmarks to review the new Jetson Nano 2GB, I decided to tackle the DIY project of building my own face mask detector.

The PlayStation 5 Will Only Be Available Online for Launch Day
The PlayStation 5 Will Only Be Available Online for Launch Day

The PlayStation 5 isn't going to be available in stores on launch day, and if you want to pick up an M.2 SSD to expand its storage, you'll have some time to figure out that purchase.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Shows Off a Monkey Playing Pong With Its Mind
Elon Musk’s Neuralink Shows Off a Monkey Playing Pong With Its Mind

The secretive company has just released a video demonstrating its brain-machine link technology. It features a monkey drinking smoothies and playing Pong with its brain.