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Google fitness app to catch breath and heart rate

By AFP - Mar 15,2021 - Last updated at Mar 15,2021

SAN FRANCISCO — Google recently unveiled an upgraded fitness app which uses smartphone camera capabilities to measure respiration and heart rate.

Google Fit already uses smartphone sensors to figure out how far people walk or how many calories they have burned, but new features rolling out to Google Pixel phones will add pulse and breathing to health data crunched by the app.

Sensors and software that make it possible to take stunning photos with smartphones or automatically adapt streaming video to how handsets are held can be used to sense respiration and heartbeat, according to Google health technologies team leader Shwetak Patel.

“We are seeing more and more smart devices that have more and more sensors in them,” Patel said, spotlighting the smartphone as the most ubiquitous. “The same sensors can be used for health and wellness.”

A modification coming in the next month to the Fit app tailored for Google-made Pixel smartphones will use camera sensors detect someone’s chest moving as they breathe, calculating their respiration rate.

Placing a fingertip on the lens will let Fit use a camera to determine how fast someone’s heart is beating based on how skin colour changes as blood is pumped, members of the team explained.

Data processing is all done on smartphones, and users will have the option to save results securely in their accounts at Google datacentres.

The Fit app lets users set activity or health goals and weaves in artificial intelligence to coach them about how to achieve objectives.

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