How to monitor your heart rate with your smartphone

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I was blog hopping yesterday morning when I ran into an interesting article on All About Windows Phone, titled, Galaxy S5 be damned, how to measure your heart rate with your Windows Phone.

The article featured an app named, Heart Rate, that measures heart rate using a combination of the camera glass and LED flash. Place your finger on both and hit the start button to get your heart rate. Sounded intriguing, so I downloaded the app and took it for a spin.

I have conducted several runs while sitting and resting, and have had a heartrate of 69bpm come back often. Here is a screenshot:

Mo Resting HeartRate

From the little I know, a normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 bpm. People in excellent physical condition (especially athletes) can have resting heat rate of 40 bpm. So, 69bpm is a pretty good figure for the resting heart rate of a 40-year old who has been too lazy to workout in recent times. Yipppeeee!

The Science behind it

Rita is a pharmacist who has been using apps like this one for a while, and she testifies that it is quite reliable. She has an article, How to measure your heart rate on the Galaxy S4, S3, HTC One, LG G2 and other phones, from which I pull the following excerpts:

The method is essentially the same as the one on the Galaxy S5, except that it uses your phone’s camera instead of a separate heart rate sensor. As your heart beats, the capillaries in your fingers contract and dilate causing a change in the way they reflect light. The process is called Photoplethysmography if you want to read about it.

If you shine a bright light like, say, your phone’s LED flash, on your index, its thin skin becomes slightly transparent making the capillaries and their pulsing detectable. Now if you have a camera nearby, you can take a video of your finger and use a smart algorithm to distinguish the pulses and hence calculate the heart rate. And what do you know, you have both a camera and computational power in your smartphone!

Well, well, well, apparently, what your Galaxy S5 can do, my Lumia 1520 can do too. Actually, almost any smartphone with a camera and flash can do it too. Tehehehe. No vex! Kudos to Samsung though, for drawing everyone’s attention to mobile health. Good move!

PS: By the way, when last did you check your blood pressure (BP)? Please do the needful. Stay healthy! And, app or no app, do go for your regular medical checkups.


  1. // PS : By the way, when last did you check your
    blood pressure (BP)? Please do the needful//

    Hehehehe !!!!

    Was in the hospital, last, as a patient, in 1999.

    That was to conduct a forced, mandatory check. Was told I have the heartbeat of a baby.!!!

    It’s a dumb thing to say, but why take a well functioning car to a mechanic….. just so they can raise your blood pressure?.

    Seriously, it’s wonderful the variety of things smartphones are becoming capable of..learnt smartphones are being used to predict earthquakes in Japan.!

  2. I’ve been doing the heartbeat rate checking with apps since 2011. I’ve done that with two different apps to check how reliable their measurement are and came out with results that are quite close. Maybe there’s a special way Samsung intend doing things that may improve the overall experience and accuracy otherwise that addition in their S5 isn’t a huge selling point if at all but apart from unduly depleting available internal storage for the user, I won’t say it’s particularly a bad move from them because so many people may not even know that things like this are possible except they are integrated on their devices.

  3. this is hardly a new thing , but it’s just becoming popular. yes, the sensor on the S5 should be more accurate. problem is a lotta folks confuse this with pulse, and or blood pressure

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