Google released the feature to track key vitals directly on your Android phones with help of the device camera in early 2021. Devices that run on iOS have now also received this feature to measure users’ heart and respiratory rate by using just the cameras. 9to5Google reports that there were cards advertising the “Check your heart rate” and “Track your respiratory rate” in Google Fit’s Home feed on iOS, yet the tech giant hasn’t officially acknowledged the arrival of this feature in iPhones.
Users can place their finger on the rear camera lens and apply light pressure to begin measuring their heart rate. To increase accuracy in darker environments, users also have the option to turn on the camera flash or they can simply place their hand (and phone) in front of a light source.
Heart rate algorithms account for lighting, skin tone, age, and other factors, whereas Google is also tracking the “subtle changes in the colour of your fingers” to approximate blood flow. Moreover, it can work offline and needs no internet connection. This takes about 30 seconds and the results are shown as a preview graph where the BPM is denoted at the bottom of the display. You can choose whether or not to save the vitals in Google Fit once the test is complete
On the other hand, the front camera is designated to track the number of breaths you take in a minute. For this, place the phone on a stable surface where your head and upper torso is unobstructed and clearly visible. Then you will be guided through a process that will ask you to “Hold still” for 30 seconds. Google Fit will calculate your breathing rate from the chest movements where the computer vision tracks slight physical signals even at a pixel level.
Google introduced this feature for Android phones in February 2021 which was first rolled out for the Pixel phones and gradually was taken up by other devices. Measurements can also be started by visiting the “Browse” tab, then select “Vitals” and scroll down for the same. Users can also set up alerts that will remind them to take measurements often. The report adds that this feature was working for both iPhone 7 and iPad Pro.
Although, it is important to note that the company has cautioned the users as it mentions “these results are not intended for medical purposes and should not be used to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition,”. Yet, the tech giant assures that these capabilities have gone through proper clinical studies.