Google prepared to rollout a new feature for its Fit app which will allow users to measure their heart and respiratory rates using a smartphone camera, a move it insisted didn’t conflict with its recent $2.1 billion acquisition of wearables company Fitbit.
Though Fitbit trackers capture similar data, a Google representative told Mobile World Live it believes there is value in offering people “an additional way to access health measurements, using their everyday devices”.
Data from Statista showed there were approximately 3.2 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2019, compared with around 722 million connected wearable devices (including watches, wristbands and hearables).
In a blog, Google explained computer vision technology enabled smartphone cameras to “track tiny physical signals at the pixel level”, including colour changes in a user’s fingers to measure heart rate and chest movements for respiratory rate.
It warned the measurements should not be used to diagnose medical conditions, instead being “useful for people using the Google Fit app to track and improve day-to-day wellness”. Users will have the option to delete the data or save it to monitor long-term trends.
The feature will initially be available to Google Fit users with a Pixel phone starting in March, with plans to expand to additional Android devices in future.
Samsung previously offered a heart rate monitor in several Galaxy smartphones starting with the S5, but dropped the sensor from the Galaxy S10e and later models.