Google has announced that you’ll soon be able to use Pixel cameras for more than photos and video. If you’re into fitness, Pixel phones will soon allow you to measure your heart and respiratory rate using nothing but the phone’s cameras.
Using the feature should be pretty straightforward. Depending on what you want to measure, you’ll need to use a front or a rear camera. To measure your breathing rate, you’ll need to place your head and upper torso in view of your phone’s front camera and breathe normally. The app will track the changes in your chest movement to calculate the breathing rate.
For measuring your pulse, you’ll need to use a rear camera. Place your finger on the rear camera lens and the app will read your heart rate. Google writes that the heart rate algorithm “relies on approximating blood flow from color changes in someone’s fingertip.” This could make this approach a little tricky because we’re all different. Google explains that the app will need to “account for factors such as lighting, skin tone, age and more in order to work for everyone.”
Google plans to introduce the new feature next month and they will be available in the Google Fit app. For now, they’re only limited to Pixel phones, but Google plans to expand to more Android devices.
I personally don’t see much use for an approach like this. I find apps like Pedometer or Strava more useful, as they measure the distance and time I walk or cycle in real-time. But I am me and you are you, and I guess folks who are more into fitness could find a feature like this useful. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see that a camera can be used for something totally unrelated to photography.
[via Ars Technica]