Smartphone apps for digital health

Nowadays, the behavioral data produced by smartphones and wearable devices, are becoming a rich mine of data to be used for health & behavior monitoring, being the large adoption of smartphones that make it possible. We must say that there is also an increasing adoption of wearable biosensors too. They are more accurate than smartphones, but they result more intrusive and more expensive compared to smartphone. There some practical and feasible applications in the market that can be used effectively to capture heart & breath rate as well as the user mobility, just by using the smartphone motion sensors or the camera lens.

Some of the most well-known and popular heart rate monitor apps are: Instant Heart Rate, Runtastic Heart Rate Pro, MotionX 24/7, Cardiio and many more. Most of them work by reading color changes on arterial pressure change [photoplethysmograph].

Javier Hernandez, Daniel J. McDuff and Rosalind W. Picard, at “BioPhone: Physiology Monitoring from Peripheral Smartphone Motions” [1], reported how to capture from accelerometer data, the heart and breathing rates of a person during stationary postures, even while being carried in a bag or a pocket. Sungjun Kwon at “Validation of heart rate extraction through an iPhone accelerometer” [2], reported that the iPhone can function as a reliable heart rate extractor with demonstrated sufficient accuracy and consistency.

On the other hand, AXA Drive,  is a useful app designed to learn and improve your skills at the wheel. The application records and analyzes your travels through acceleration, braking and cornering you give. It generates a score according to your way of driving, at the end of each trip plications. Driveology is another useful app that to monitor your driving style. This type of applications can be used to reward you, by lowering the cost of your car insurance, if your driving style is not risky.

[1] Hernandez, Javier & McDuff, Daniel & Picard, Rosalind. (2015). Biophone: Physiology monitoring from peripheral smartphone motions. 2015. 7180-7183. 10.1109/EMBC.2015.7320048.

[2] S. Kwon, J. Lee, G. S. Chung and K. S. Park, “Validation of heart rate extraction through an iPhone accelerometer,” 2011 Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2011, pp. 5260-5263, doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6091301.

Photo by Rodrigo Acuña for Psycognet