I spent the majority of my academic research and product career exploring all the ways smart devices and the sensors within these devices can be used to improve
people’s health and wellbeing. As David mentioned, smartphone adoption’s prolific. And recent advancements in mobile sensors that are in those devices coupled with AI technology means that you can do so much more
with existing technology, like using your microphone, camera, accelerometer, gyro,
and other built-in sensors that we’re seeing in mobile phones.
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Among the initial projects we’ve been exploring, we’re excited to share with you the use of the camera phone
to measure your heart rate and your breathing rate. Typically you need specialized sensors or devices
to measure these numbers. But today we’re excited to share with you the ability
to measure both your heart rate and your breathing rate using this technology that will soon be available in the Google Fit app. The principle behind this technology is similar to a pulse oximeter
that you might use at a doctor’s appointment. Which optically measures the change in cardiac volume
at your fingertip. So the way this works is that as the heart is beating.
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the amount of blood getting to the fingertip changes and it’s related to your heartbeat.
But recent advancements in mobile phone cameras and computer vision algorithms allow us to see even the most imperceptible movements and color changes that happen on the human body.
So instead of just looking at the fingertip, you can look at the face
and detect that small change in color that tells you what your heart rate is.
Similarly, the small movements related to your breathing can also be detected with these algorithms.
There’s been over a decade of basic science research in this space.
But there are also engineering challenges that had to be addressed and make this technology easy to use
and scalable across mobile devices.
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A critical part of our product development was ensuring that the algorithm performed well
across diverse populations so this technology could be used by everyone.
Working with several research sites, we validated our algorithm with hundreds of people of different ages, gender, skin color, health status,and even a variety of different lighting conditions.
We’ll first launch with select Android phones on the Google Fit app but with plans to expand to more and more devices. While the sensor outputs are not medical diagnoses,
they’re still useful measures of fitness and health. So after you go for a run, you can quickly use the app to be able to look at what your heart rate is. The measures rely on the live video feed and camera on your mobile phone but you can choose whether or not to delete or save
the measurements privately in your Google Fit app. With this milestone, our team continues to work on what else is possible with sensors and phones, and other commodity devices.
We’ve just scratched the surface of what we can do. Our team at Google Health is committed to advancing the field of mobile health sensing and its wide-ranging applications for everyday health. We continue to advance health and wellness use cases by leveraging a variety of sensors,
surfaces, and applications also working closely with research and healthcare
professionals in the community to ensure that these measurements and accurate
and meaningful to people and health care workers.