A few years ago, we saw a patent referring to this function in AirPods, measuring the respiratory rate. It is a function th at It seems they are using some of Apple’s researchers to take measurements of respiration.
While the document does not at any point name “AirPods,” Apple is known to have explored some of these options with headphones. The patent we are talking about, for example, Apple described a headset-based fitness monitoring system which are integrated with an advanced biometric sensor that can detect physiological measurements such as temperature, heart rate, sweat levels and more.
Data was collected from 21 people who wore near-field headphones with a microphone before, during and after a workout. This “RR” frequency was recorded manually by counting the inspirations and exhales perceived audibly. A multi-level convolutional neural network was used to obtain signal clarity, among other things, and the observed results show that RR can be estimated with a concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) of 0.76 and a root mean square error. (MSE) of 0.2, showing that audio can be a viable signal to passively estimate RR.
The results presented confirm that RR can be estimated from audio captured with portable microphones, allowing the detection of heavy breathing conditions and tracking changes in RR, a measure of cardiorespiratory condition, over time. . The results are promising for the further development of a respiratory health tool with a larger study cohort.
It may be that eventually AirPods are becoming more than just headphones and with the arrival of new options, they are expected to be integrated with health as the Apple Watch does today, a device almost entirely focused on the functions of measuring health.