AI-backed heart and breathing analysis coming to Google Pixel phones

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Tech giant Google is all set to bring personal healthcare literally at the user’s fingertips with the introduction of measuring heart and breathing rates on its Pixel line of smartphones. 

Google’s new functionality will use the smartphone camera and Alphabet Inc’s artificial intelligence technology to make assessments about the user’s heart rate and breathing. this will be one of the first instances where Alphabet will leverage its AI capabilities into its wellness services.

Even though similar functionalities were offered by several apps on Google’s own PlayStore for apps and Apple App Store in the past decade, results provided by them lacked consistency leading to lower adoption.

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Google on the other hand is all set to release an academic paper featuring the methodology of its measurements along with clinical trial data in the coming weeks.

Announcing the features on the official blog post, Mr. Shwetak Patel, Google Health’s Director of Health Technologies wrote that the features will be initially rolled out as a new update to Google’s Fit app on the Pixel smartphones with support for more Android phones down the line. Plans for iPhones still remain unclear.

Heart rate Monitoring 

Users will have to place their finger over the camera lens, which will catch subtle color changes that correspond to blood flow and will provide a reading of the pulse.

Breathing 

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Google will use a short video of upper torso movements and process the footage with its AI technology to provide an accurate measurement of respiration.

Google Health’s Product Manager Mr. Jack Po pointed out that the company wanted to give an alternative to manual pulse checks for smartphone owners who only want to monitor their condition occasionally but did not want to spend on a wearable just for the same.

Mr. Po added that the technology, which can mistake heart rates by about 2%, requires further testing before it could be used in medical settings.

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