Google Fit for iPhone receives heart and respiratory rate measure update

By Arya M Nair, Intern Reporter
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Google Fit, a health-tracking platform developed by the tech giant, Google, has reportedly been updated with the ability to track and measure heart and respiratory rate using an iPhone’s camera.

The fitness app can measure a user’s heart rate when they apply light pressure on the rear camera lens. Additionally, it can also work offline with no internet connection. There is also the option to turn on flash to increase accuracy in dark environments.

The front camera, on the other hand, tracks a user’s breaths per minute (BPM). Google Fit’s heart and respiratory rate tracking feature was first introduced for Google Pixel smartphones in February.

Google is tracking the “subtle changes in the color of your fingers” to approximate blood flow, with the heart rate algorithms accounting for lighting, skin tone, age, and other factors. This takes about 30 seconds with a preview graph and BPM noted at the bottom of the screen. Once completed, users can decide whether or not to save the vitals to Fit.

Also with Google Fit for iOS, the iPhone’s selfie camera can track a user’s respiratory rate by tracking their breaths per second. Users are guided through the process with prompts to “Hold still” for half a minute. Google Fit calculates respiratory rate from subtle chest movements, with computer vision tracking the tiny physical signals at a pixel level.

The company does caution that “these results are not intended for medical purposes and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition,” but that these capabilities have gone through clinical studies.

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