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New Tech Turns Headphones into Heart Monitors

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November 3, 2013 9:43:13 AM

A speaker is nothing more than a transducer. It can be a speaker or a microphone.
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November 3, 2013 9:54:38 AM

Nice in theory but in practice it is a lot easier to make it work on one random pair of headphones than it is to make it work on all headphones.
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November 3, 2013 9:54:54 AM

Nice in theory but in practice it is a lot easier to make it work on one random pair of headphones than it is to make it work on all headphones.
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November 3, 2013 10:16:08 AM

About the joggers listening to music, I wish there was clarification as to whether or not it could read a heartbeat whilst outputting sound simultaneously.
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November 3, 2013 12:05:48 PM

azathoth said:
About the joggers listening to music, I wish there was clarification as to whether or not it could read a heartbeat whilst outputting sound simultaneously.


I would not think so, since sound waves would interfere with the ones coming from the heartbeat. I would guess there is an app that pauses the music while getting the 'pulse'. At the same time, there are apps that measure heartbeat by using the LED and camera, so this would only be useful for those that lack either (hard to find such instances in current smartphones).
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November 3, 2013 12:29:39 PM

house70 said:
I would not think so, since sound waves would interfere with the ones coming from the heartbeat. I would guess there is an app that pauses the music while getting the 'pulse'.

Since the point of the thing most likely is to provide effortless and non-intrusive measurements by reusing a transducer most people already wear anyway, cutting the sound and requiring user intervention would render this thing pointless - people will most likely far prefer uninterrupted music apart from possible rate monitoring warnings to tell you your heart rate either dropped below your workout's minimum level or exceeded the maximum.

With echo cancellation, it should be possible to detect the pulse even with music playing but that would require an ADC with high enough resolution to pick up the back-EMF from the headphones from under the sound signal.

Monitoring heartrate with a microphone attached to your body is nothing new so if they have to stop music to make measurements, that would make it pretty much un-news.
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November 3, 2013 9:30:56 PM

Check out the specs on the Motorola SF700. Those Bluetooth headphones were supposed to do exactly what this article describes, monitor your heart while playing music, although I don't believe Motorola ever released the SF700.
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November 4, 2013 8:21:19 AM

Awesome new tech that can allow your music player to increase the pace/rhythm/speed of the music as your heartrate goes up and finally kill you with heart failure.

Assassin tool of the future!
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November 4, 2013 10:50:38 AM

InvalidError said:
house70 said:
I would not think so, since sound waves would interfere with the ones coming from the heartbeat. I would guess there is an app that pauses the music while getting the 'pulse'.

Since the point of the thing most likely is to provide effortless and non-intrusive measurements by reusing a transducer most people already wear anyway, cutting the sound and requiring user intervention would render this thing pointless - people will most likely far prefer uninterrupted music apart from possible rate monitoring warnings to tell you your heart rate either dropped below your workout's minimum level or exceeded the maximum.

With echo cancellation, it should be possible to detect the pulse even with music playing but that would require an ADC with high enough resolution to pick up the back-EMF from the headphones from under the sound signal.

Monitoring heartrate with a microphone attached to your body is nothing new so if they have to stop music to make measurements, that would make it pretty much un-news.


What you said is mostly true but unfortunately, I think they haven't gotten clever enough to do this without cutting the sound. That doesn't mean it's "un-news". The point is to make detecting heart rate more convenient but I think the research is still far away from being completely invisible and in the background.
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November 4, 2013 11:28:58 AM

doomtomb said:
I think they haven't gotten clever enough to do this without cutting the sound. That doesn't mean it's "un-news".

If they have to cut sound to make measurements then there is nothing really new about it: the fact that speakers can be used as microphones has been known for nearly 100 years. The only thing you need to turn any odd pair of microphones into an HRM is an amplifier with low enough noise, a low-pass filter and some form of counter circuitry. Relatively trivial.

Heck, even doing that with music playing shouldn't be too hard if you can pass the audio through a 20-20kHz filter for audio on the output path and a 0-10Hz LPF for the HRM, which eliminates the need for echo cancellation and high precision ADC.
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