Google’s Fit app on its Pixel smartphones is getting an update that will add heart and respiratory rate monitors to it this February. Not only that, the feature will be extended to other Android phones in the future, TheVerge reports.
To measure respiratory rate with the Fit app, Pixel owners will point their phone’s selfie camera to their head and chest. The app works by monitoring how a user’s chest rises and falls. For heart rate, users have to place their finger over the back camera while the app works by tracking the change of colour as blood moves through the fingertip.
As expected, data from the Fit app will be elementary at best and can’t be compared to a wearable device. The app is useful for wellness but cannot replace a doctor’s diagnosis. “If users were to take their heart rate once a week, they would actually get a lot of value,” said Jack Po, a Product Manager at Google Health. “They’ll get a lot of value in tracking whether their heart rate might be improving, if exercise is paying off. A lot of people, especially in disadvantaged economic classes right now, don’t have things like wearables, but would still really benefit from the ability to be able to track their breathing rate, heart rate, et cetera.”
Before the feature can be available on other Android smartphones, Google want to study how well it works outside of Pixel phones and “rigorous testing” must have been done, said Jeining Zhan, Technical Lead at Google Health.
Since Google isn’t claiming the app can perform medical diagnosis, it needs no clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add its tools to the app.