Google Pixel smartphones will soon be able to measure heart rates and breathing via cameras
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Smartwatches have become increasingly complex in the last few years, with high-end models like the Apple Watch able to take an ECG. However, Google has announced plans to bring some previously smartwatch exclusive features to its Pixel smartphones.
Specifically, Google has found a way to utilise a smartphone's camera to measure heart and respiratory rates. According to a blog post, Google can measure the breathing rates with a front-facing camera, which analyses changes in someone's torso. Based on that data, Google can calculate how often the user inhales and exhales per minute.
By contrast, Google utilises a device's main camera to measure heart rates. Apparently, placing a finger on the camera allows it to evaluate colour changes, which Google interprets as blood flow. The company has released a GIF of measuring respiratory rates work, which you can watch below, but not for measuring heart rates. Incidentally, Nintendo uses the IR camera in its Switch Joy-Con to measure heart rates in some games.
Google emphasises that the two features are wellness features, and should not be used for diagnosing medical problems. Additionally, Google plans to extend this functionality to more Android devices, but only Pixel smartphones will be eligible for the time being. The same blog post states that these features will be available in the Google Fit app from March.