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You Might Soon Be Able to Monitor Your Breathing Rate with AirPods, New Apple Research Reveals

According to recent research conducted by Apple and Cornell University, gadgets with built-in microphones such as AirPods and AirPods Pro can be used to gauge respiratory rate (RR). The study indicates that the breath audio fetched by these devices can be used to assess RR. MyHealthyApple was the first to take notice of the said research

Apple stated that one can evaluate overall health and fitness by measuring respiratory rate. Moreover, RR can fluctuate due to various factors e.g. workout, chronic acute illness, etc. Normally, patients go to their healthcare provider and undergo respiratory rate tests. However, Apple and Cornell University’s research strives to figure out a way to evaluate the said metric remotely.

The said research utilized a model-driven technology to approximate a healthy adult’s RR with the help of brief audio segments retrieved after physical activity. About 21 people participated in this study and all of them had to use near-field headphones with the microphones enabled before, during, and after the specified physical activity.

The experiment discovered that the retrieved audio can serve as a feasible signal for “passively estimating” respiratory rates. And it goes without saying that this is a more cost-friendly alternative to standard healthcare.

The researchers explained that RR was measured by calculating the audibly perceived inhalations and exhalations. Moreover, a multi-task Long-Short Term Memory (LSTM) network with complex layers was applied to process mel-filterbank energies, gauge RR in different background noise conditions, and approximate heavy breathing (>25 breaths per minute).

All in all, it was noted that RR can be evaluated with a 0.76 concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) and a 0.2 mean squared error (MSE).

Interestingly, the research corroborates the ongoing rumors regarding Apple planning on incorporating new health-monitoring features into AirPods Pro, presumably by next year. Back in June, Kevin Lynch (Apple’s VP of Technology) teased that Apple users could soon use AirPods to “father different data” for health tracking.


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