New research has shown that devices such as AirPods or Apple Watch can potentially be used to monitor health indicators such as breathing rate.

Apple and Cornell University have published new studies that show AirPods or Apple Watch could be used in the future to measure breathing rate using built-in microphones:

Data were collected from 21 people using near-field headphones with a microphone before, during and after strenuous exercise.

Respiratory rate was recorded manually by counting audible breaths and breaths.

A multilevel neural network was used to achieve signal purity, and the results showed that respiration rate can be estimated with a goodness-of-fit correlation coefficient (CCC) of 0.76 and a mean square error (MSE) of 0.2, demonstrating that audio can be a viable signal for passive assessment.

This work is unique in three main respects: it estimates breathing rate from a wearable microphone in natural environments both indoors and outdoors, uses a model-based approach to estimate breathing rate directly from the filter bank energy, and implements situational awareness through multi-tasking training so that the model can distinguish high load conditions from low load conditions.

Apple has already launched support for respiratory rate tracking in watchOS 8, but this feature is limited to tracking health while you sleep. If the new study is implemented in the company’s devices, then Apple Watch or AirPods can be used to track breathing rate at any time of the day.

Apple is expected to release watchOS 8 alongside Apple Watch Series 7 this fall. The watch is rumored to have a new design and possibly the blood glucose monitoring feature that people have dreamed of for years. The company is also expected to introduce third-generation AirPods.