Google has announced these two new health features, which will be based on smartphone sensors. They will first be available on Pixels, before being extended to other Android devices.
Google announced that starting in March, Google Fit will allow users to measure their heart and respiratory rates using their phone’s camera.
This function will be available in the Google Fit app, first for the Pixels. Google plans to quickly expand it to other Android devices.
To measure their respiratory rate, the user will just have to place their head and the top of their torso in front of the phone’s camera. And to measure the heart rate, he will have to put his finger on the lens of the rear camera. Once their measurements have been taken, the user can, if they wish, save them in the Google Fit application, in order to monitor and follow their daily well-being.
Use the sensors of smartphones
Dr. David Feinberg, director of health technologies at Google Health, explains that these features rely on sensors built into smartphones, including the microphone, camera, and accelerometer.
“Thanks to increasingly powerful sensors and advances in machine vision, these functions allow you to use your smartphone’s camera to track tiny physical signals at the scale of a pixel-like the movement of the body and Chest to measure your respiratory rate and the subtle changes in the color of your fingers for your heart rate,” he explains.
These two features have undergone and passed, during their development, clinical trials to validate that the algorithm could work “under a variety of real-world conditions and for as many people as possible,” says Dr. David Feinberg.
“Our heart rate algorithm is based on approximating blood flow from color changes in a person’s fingertips, so it has to take into account factors like lighting, skin color, and age. And other things to work for everyone,” he says.
Google purchasing Fitbit
Among the novelties, beyond these two new health features, Google Fit should display on a single screen the user’s daily and weekly goals, heart points, recent workouts as well as information about his sleep.
Earlier this year, Google officially finalized its purchase of Fitbit for $ 2.1 billion. Not only does this acquisition make room for a possible Google-branded smartwatch, but it also gives the web giant the ownership of the health company Fitbit, and access to a multitude of data.
Nevertheless, the Mountain View firm assured at the time that its interest in Fitbit “has always been about devices and not data”, and that it was determined to protect the privacy of Fitbit users.