Google Fit update lets Pixel phone track respiratory and heart rate

Chris Burns - Feb 4, 2021, 11:27am CST
Google Fit update lets Pixel phone track respiratory and heart rate

Using your smartphone’s camera and built-in sensors of several sorts, Google’s added a couple of basic health monitoring systems to Google Fit. Heart Rate and Respiratory Rate can now be measured with Google Fit thanks to Google’s fancy footwork with Pixel phone cameras. Google suggested that they’ll add these features to more devices than just the Pixel, courtesy of Google Fit.

With the latest version of Google Fit on the newest Google Pixel smartphone, users can now see respiratory rate and heart rate. To measure respiratory rate, the smartphone needs to see your face and hear you breathe. Your upper torso movements and the sounds you make while breathing allow Google Fit to do a basic diagnosis of the rate at which you breathe.

To find your heart rate, Google Fit calls upon color sensors in the Google Pixel’s back-facing camera system. With Google’s algorithm, heart rate can be tracked thanks to color changes in a user’s fingertip. This is a seriously finicky system, of course, since every person attempting to track heart rate will have a different skin tone and lighting conditions when tracking takes place.

As both of these methods of measurement are not nearly so exact as slightly more traditional measurement tools, Google makes sure to leave a warning. These measurements aren’t meant for medical diagnosis or to evaluate medical conditions.

Instead, as Google Health Technologies Director of Health Shwetak Patel says, “we hope they can be useful for people using the Google Fit app to track and improve day-to-day wellness.” Measurements can be tracked and saved in Google Fit, “to monitor trends over time, alongside other health and wellness information.”

For deeper tracking and monitoring of your body’s health, you’re going to need a more intense set of tools. This update to Google Fit will allow you to start with the most basic of basics.


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