AirPods Could Be Used To Measure Respiratory Rate Through Mic Audio

Apple researchers have decided that AirPods and other “wearable headphones” could be used to measure a wearer’s respiratory rate, giving the company another avenue for measuring health statistics other than Apple Watch.

According to a paper on Apple’s Machine Learning Research website, Apple believes a that AirPods could be used to measure the sound made by the wearer when they inhale and exhale.

According to the paper, being able to measure respiratory rate could be beneficial for tracking disease progression and overall fitness.

Data was collected from 21 individuals using microphone-enabled, near-field headphones before, during, and after strenuous exercise. RR was manually annotated by counting audibly perceived inhalations and exhalations.

A multi-level convolutional neural network was used to achieve signal clarity among other things and the results observed show that RR can be estimated with a concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) of 0.76 and a mean squared error (MSE) of 0.2, demonstrating that audio can be a viable signal for passively estimating RR.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard suggestions that AirPods could be capable of measuring health statistics but it’s the first confirmation that Apple is indeed exploring the possibility.

Apple reportedly has plans to announce updated AirPods imminently, but it isn’t clear whether this new capability will be part of the announcement.

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