Smartphone accelerometers for the detection of heart rate

Expert Rev Med Devices. 2017 Dec;14(12):935-948. doi: 10.1080/17434440.2017.1407647. Epub 2017 Nov 26.


Micro-electro-mechanical systems technology, now embedded into smartphones, potentially allows measuring heart mechanical activity by positioning the phone on the body and acquiring vibrational signals, without the need for additional peripherals or interfaces. However, lack of standardization in experimental protocol, processing methodology and validation procedures, together with the wide range of available smartphones on the market, impact on the comparability of results and their general validity. The aim of this review is to provide information on the state-of-the art of research in this field, with current limitations and potentials, thus potentially serving as a basis for the creation of a standard based on current experiences. Areas covered: The review focused on studies relevant to the extraction of the heart rate using accelerometric technology, searching for relevant literature (papers or conference proceedings) both in Pubmed and IEEE eXplore engines. Expert commentary: From the results of this review, the smartphone can be considered a powerful device able to accurately measure the resting heart rate, thanks to embedded accelerometer technology. However, lack of a shared standard in the acquisition protocol and analysis procedure, thus affecting user-collected data reliability, could limit clinical acceptability and prevent recommending this approach as a self-tracking tool in patients.

Keywords: Heart rate; accelerometers; ballistocardiography; m-health; mobile phone; seismocardiography; signal processing; validation studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Smartphone*