There’s no arguing that the iPhone 12 is the best camera phone from this generation. However, it is the Pixel 4a that has the smartest camera around. Google’s AI tricks are able to keep the Pixel’s aging Sony sensor compete with the latest gazillion-megapixel cameras. It then doesn’t come as surprising to see Google figure out a way to measure the heart rate and respiratory rate using the simple cameras on its Pixel phones.
Google just detailed in one of its recent blogs the latest achievement regarding rear camera AI processing. On its Pixel devices, Google will let users measure the heart rate as well as the respiratory rate via the rear camera. The feature comes baked into the Google Fit app and is currently limited to Pixel devices only. However, Google will release it for other Android phones in the future.
Pixel cameras can measure heart, respiratory rate
Measuring heart rate directly from the phone isn’t a new concept. Those who keep a tab of the history of smartphones may recall Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note devices featuring optical sensors. The phones used to feature the sensor just alongside the main rear camera. Samsung eventually dropped the feature starting from the Galaxy S10 Lite and newer models.
Google’s trick does not involve additional sensors. In fact, it uses the main camera and a bunch of smart observations to monitor the data. For heart rate, the user is required to place his/her finger on the rear camera. The app detects the color change as blood moves through the fingertip and sues its smart algorithms to give out the data.
Similarly, for the respiratory rate, the person is required to cover the face as well as the chest inside the viewfinder. The app will then observe the movement of the chest using machine learning, similar to an actual doctor.
While this is smart, Google says that both these features give an idea of overall wellness. One should not use them for medical diagnosis. In other words, your Fitbit or Apple Watch will consistently offer reliable data over the course of time.
That said, Google’s internal testing suggested that data is consistently closer to that of a medical-grade monitoring device. The respiratory rate feature was accurate within one breath per minute while the heart rate feature was accurate within 2 percent. This comes after testing on a wide variety of people.