Google Pixel 6 users can now enjoy early access to heart rate and respiratory rate tracking features via the Google Fit app. The features work using the phone’s rear camera, flash, and onboard sensors.
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are Google flagship smartphones released with the company’s first proprietary Tensor chip. At launch, the phones lacked camera-based health tracking. Now, respiratory rate tracking and heart rate measurement have been added, but Google warns that the measurements using “just your phone” are “being fine-tuned, and may be removed.”
The feature works by using the flash to illuminate the skin of your finger pressed against it. The camera “subtle changes in the color of your fingers” caused by your heart rate, thereby enabling measurement.
9to5Google noted that in brief testing, the data recorded by the Google Fit early access features were accurate and matched that of a Fitbit tracker and a Pixel 5. It added that the Pixel 6’s reading was off by around 30 beats per minute (BPM) when the test was performed in a dimly lit area, in defiance of Google’s instructions to avoid doing so.
We hope the feature rolls out to all Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro users in the coming weeks. Google can make it happen because, for the first time, they are in complete control of the smartphones’ internal processor as well as the software that uses it.
That said, the final implementation will carry the same warning that data from every other fitness tracker does. It shouldn’t be treated as a supplement for scientifically obtained medical data that clinical diagnosis relies on.
Would on-device heart rate and respiratory rate monitoring be valuable features for you on the Pixel 6? Share your thoughts in the comments below!