Google Health Checkup: recording heart sounds with phone mic

Since last year, Google Health has been a “company-wide effort to help billions of people get healthier” that’s spread across multiple product teams. At its second annual “The Check Up” event, Google showcased its latest health research and features to help achieve this goal.


In last year’s presentation, the Google Fit app on Android (and later iOS) took on the ability to measure heart and breathing rate using your phone’s back and front cameras. The goal was to demonstrate “how mobile sensors combined with machine learning can democratize health metrics.”

Google is continuing on this path with new research to determine whether a smartphone (and its existing microphones) placed on a person’s chest can detect heartbeats and whispers. This is in the early stages of clinical study testing.

Listening to a person’s heart and lungs with a stethoscope, known as auscultation, is an essential part of a physical exam. It can help clinicians detect heart valve disorders, such as aortic stenosis, which are important to catch early. Screening for aortic stenosis usually requires specialized equipment, such as a stethoscope or ultrasound, and an in-person evaluation.

Speaking of the heart, Fitbit submitted its AFib PPG (photoplethysmography) algorithm — used by the Fitbit Charge 5 app and Sense’s ECG to warn of signs of an irregular heartbeat — to the FDA for review after finding that it “accurately identified undiagnosed AFib 98% of the time.

After Soli-powered sleep tracking on the 2nd-gen Nest Hub, ATAP wants to use the Jacquard Tag to help patients recover from orthopedic surgery. Today, this requires people to walk into a gait lab for 3D motion capture of joint locations. ATAP and its partners at UCSF are investigating how the existing USB waist sensor can be used to track such relevant measurements, such as knee angular velocity. This data collected 24/7 can be used to improve the recovery process.


Outside of The Check Up 2022 lab, Google Health wants users to use search to see available medical appointment dates/times and book:

Although we are still in the early stages of rolling out this feature, we are working with partners including MinuteClinic from CVS and a number of scheduling solution providers. We hope to expand features, functionality and our network of partners to make it easier for people to access the care they need.

Meanwhile, YouTube will start showing health source information panels in Japan, Brazil and India this week following a US launch last year.

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