Scientists at Google have recently made a groundbreaking discovery in the world of wearable technology. In a research paper published on Google Research portal, they introduced Audioplethysmography (APG), a revolutionary cardiac monitoring function for active noise cancellation (ANC) headphones. This new technology allows for the accurate measurement of heart rates using the speakers and microphone of the wireless earphones.
APG utilizes low intensity ultrasound signals to record heart rate data. The ANC headphones emit a probing signal through the speakers and detect the echoes using the on-board feedback microphones. The researchers at Google found that heartbeats modulate ultrasound echoes due to slight changes in the volume of the ear canals caused by blood vessel deformations. This innovative method enables the ANC headphones to provide an accurate record of cardiac activities, even while the wearer is engaged in physical activities such as running or listening to music.
To validate the effectiveness of APG, Google conducted an eight-month-long field study involving 153 participants. The study tested the technology in various conditions and scenarios. The results were highly promising, with APG achieving consistently high heart rate measurement accuracy and heart rate variability (HRV) measurement accuracy. The study also took into account feedback from Google’s internal Health, Product, User Experience (UX), and Legal teams to further improve the technology.
One of the remarkable aspects of APG is its resilience to various factors. The research paper highlights that the technology is not affected by skin tone, sub-optimal seal conditions, or ear canal size. This means that APG can provide accurate heart rate monitoring for individuals with different skin tones and ear tip sizes, without compromising usability or functionality.
The APG technology has the potential to revolutionize the wearables market. The research paper suggests that heart rate monitoring can be added to any ANC headphones through a simple software upgrade, with minimal impact on battery life. This means that in the near future, users may be able to enjoy the benefits of heart rate monitoring while listening to music or engaging in physical activities, all through their wireless earphones.
While there is no specific timeline mentioned for the wide availability of APG, the research paper hints at future research focusing on optimizing the technology for rigorous mobile scenarios such as hiking, weightlifting, boxing, and high-intensity interval training. This suggests that APG could become an essential feature for fitness enthusiasts and athletes seeking accurate heart rate monitoring during intense physical activities.
The introduction of Audioplethysmography as a cardiac monitoring function in ANC headphones opens up a new realm of possibilities. This innovative technology has the potential to simplify heart rate monitoring for individuals, without the need for dedicated devices or additional accessories. With further advancements and research, APG could become a standard feature in wireless earphones, catering to the growing demand for seamless integration of health monitoring into everyday life.