Curated By: Shaurya Sharma
Last Updated: October 29, 2023, 16:27 IST
Mountain View, California, USA
When it comes to measuring heart rate, most people rely on off-the-shelf fitness trackers and smartwatches. But what if you could use your pair of wireless noise-canceling earbuds to measure your heart rate as well? Well, this is exactly what Google has attempted in a research paper spotted by 9to5Mac.
But before we delve into Google’s approach, let’s learn about how heart rate is typically measured through photoplethysmography. This optical technique detects changes in blood volume using pulsating lights.
Google’s earbuds approach, on the other hand, uses a different technique called audioplethysmography (APG). Unlike the optical method, this technology relies on ultrasound to detect the heartbeat.
According to the paper, Google notes that APG “sends a low-intensity ultrasound probing signal using an ANC headphone’s speakers and receives the echoes via the onboard feedback microphones.” Simply put, the ultrasound waves bounce off the ear canal and return to the mic. This reading involves intricacies such as changes in blood vessel deformations, thus modulating the ultrasound echoes with the heartbeats.
Google states it has developed a new model involving a “multi-tone APG signal processing pipeline” to indicate both heart rate and heart rate variability in “constrained and unconstrained settings.”
“APG enables robust monitoring of cardiac activities using mass-market ANC headphones in the presence of music playback and body motion, such as running,” Google added. The company also notes that the APG technology is resilient to variations in skin tone, sub-optimal seal conditions, and ear canal size.
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