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Breaking the Sound Barrier: Google's Astonishing Leap in Wearable Health Technology
Google researchers enable TWS earphones with ANC to monitor heart rate
In a world marked by global challenges and transformative technological advancements, the human spirit continues to soar above and beyond. As we adapt to the unprecedented demands brought about by the pandemic, technology's rapid evolution becomes more critical than ever. This week, we bring you an exciting development that exemplifies this spirit of innovation. Google, a name synonymous with technological prowess, has introduced a groundbreaking approach to our everyday audio accessories.
Unveiling Audioplethysmography (APG): A Symphony of Science and Sound
During the COVID-19 outbreak, individuals worldwide faced an unprecedented challenge - acquiring vital medical monitoring devices, such as SpO2 (blood-oxygen) readers. This struggle was amplified by opportunistic sellers, driving prices to exorbitant levels. Yet, from adversity emerges ingenuity. Tech industry leaders responded by integrating health monitoring features into their products, from smartwatches to smartphones like the Google Pixel. However, these features often rely on expensive sensors that demand substantial space within compact devices.
Now, Google's pioneering researchers have unleashed an inventive, cost-effective solution - enabling regular True Wireless Stereo (TWS) earphones with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to read critical biosignals, notably the heart rate.
The Sound of Health: How APG Works
Through a mere software update, these TWS earphones become your personal health sentinels. Google's scientists harnessed the power of audioplethysmography (APG), a technique that utilizes ultrasound to measure your heart rate.
APG ingeniously leverages the built-in speakers of your ANC earphones to transmit low-intensity ultrasound waves (TX wave), which then echo back as receiving waves (RX wave) via the onboard feedback microphones. This APG signal mimics the rhythm of your heartbeat, offering rich cardiac insights, including the elusive dicrotic notches.
Astonishingly, the auditory canal, nourished by the arteria auricularis profunda, or the deep ear artery, facilitates this low-intensity ultrasound signal within your ear canal. Here, a tiny microphone, the unsung hero that underpins ANC technology in your earphones, detects the subtle skin surface perturbations as your blood surges through your veins.
Unveiling the Results: The Promise of APG
The results are nothing short of astonishing. With this innovative technique, Google researchers were able to read your heart rate with remarkable accuracy. The median error rates for heart rate and heart rate variability were an impressive 3.21 percent and 2.70 percent, respectively.
Google's bold leap into the future of wearable health technology heralds a promising era of accessible, unobtrusive health monitoring. However, the question lingers: Will Google transform their Pixel Buds Pro earphones into dedicated medical devices? Only time will unveil the answer to this intriguing possibility.
Stay tuned for more exciting developments as we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of STEM innovation. As we march forward, let's keep our hearts open to the extraordinary potential that lies within our grasp.
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