This week, Apple and Cornell University released a new study demonstrating how researchers can predict respiratory rate using breath sounds captured by wearable microphones like the AirPods and AirPods Pro. This month, Apple and Cornell University academics released an article, which MyHealthyApple was the first to notice.
Respiratory rate, according to Apple, is a clinical measure used to gauge general health and fitness. Exercise and persistent acute sickness are two examples of factors that might cause it to alter. Patients are now forced to see their healthcare practitioner for respiratory rate testing and analysis, but Apple and Cornell University’s study intends to find a technique to estimate the measure remotely.
Apple and Cornell researchers used brief audio snippets acquired after physical exercise in healthy individuals to assess a person’s respiratory rate using model-driven technologies. Before, during, and after vigorous activity, data was gathered from 21 people utilizing microphone-enabled near-field headphones.
According to the study, audio can be a “viable signal for passively measuring” respiratory rates, and it is also a more cost-effective method than standard healthcare.
RR was manually annotated by counting audibly perceived inhalations and exhalations. A multi-task Long-Short Term Memory (LSTM) network with convolutional layers was implemented to process mel-filterbank energies, estimate RR in varying background noise conditions, and predict heavy breathing (greater than 25 breaths per minute). The multi-task model performs both classification and regression tasks and leverages a mixture of loss functions. It was observed 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.
Notably, the findings coincide with reports that Apple is planning to update the AirPods Pro with additional health monitoring features as early as next year. New sensors for integrated fitness monitoring are planned in the AirPods Pro upgrade next year. In a June interview, Apple VP Kevin Lynch highlighted the idea of utilizing AirPods to “father different data” for health monitoring.