Back in February, Google announced it would roll out a new ‘Fit Mobile Vitals’ feature to Google Fit on Pixel phones. The feature would allow users to monitor their heart and respiratory rate using just the camera on their phone. Now, it looks like that feature could roll out starting March 8th.
According to Android Police, the heart and respiratory monitoring will arrive first for Pixel phones, and later for other Android devices. However, the publication notes that Google didn’t provide any schedule or details about hardware or software requirements, so it’s not clear how much longer it’ll be until the feature arrives for non-Pixel users.
On top of that, Android Police was reportedly told that the feature would come to “all supported Pixels,” but it’s not clear if that means the Pixel 2 line. Considering that the Pixel 2 and 2 XL no longer receive software updates, I’d guess they won’t get the feature, but I could be wrong.
If you’re curious how Google Fit will be able to monitor your heart rate and breathing rate with just your phone camera, it’s actually a pretty neat system.
For heart rate, users just need to cover the camera sensor on their phone and apply light pressure. The phone will shine the LED flash to light up your finger while the camera picks up on subtle colour changes called “pulsatile photoplethysmographic signals.” If you’ve ever held a flashlight up your finger to make it glow red, this is basically what the Google Fit app does, except it checks for slight changes in the colour to measure your pulse.
It’s worth noting this feature isn’t exactly new — the Withings (which was previously bought by Nokia but is now back to being Withings) Health Mate app lets you measure your pulse in the same way.
Measuring your respiratory rate is a bit different. That measurement requires propping up your phone so you can see your head and chest with the selfie camera. Google Fit records your breathing and measures the movements of your chest to calculate your breaths per minute.
Google says it processes all this on-device, so users shouldn’t have to worry about random recordings of them breathing ending up on a Google server somewhere.
Pixel owners should keep an eye out for these features to arrive in the coming days.
Source: Android Police