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Google Pixel smartphones will soon be able to measure heart rates and breathing via cameras

An upcoming Google Fit update will utilise cameras to measure heart rates and breathing. (Image source: Daniel Romero)
An upcoming Google Fit update will utilise cameras to measure heart rates and breathing. (Image source: Daniel Romero)
Google is bringing some clever features to its current crop of Pixel smartphones. According to a blog post, its smartphones will soon be capable of measuring heart rates and breathing without needing a smartwatch. The features should arrive on other Android smartphones eventually, too.

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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.

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(Image source: Google)

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Google, Daniel Romero - Image credit

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Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - Senior Tech Writer - 4126 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.
contact me via: @aldersonaj
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 02 > Google Pixel smartphones will soon be able to measure heart rates and breathing via cameras
Alex Alderson, 2021-02- 6 (Update: 2021-02- 6)