Reliability of heart rate mobile apps in young healthy adults: exploratory study and research directions

Maria Parpinel, Laura Scherling, Stefano Lazzer, Vincenzo Della Mea


Background: Recently, a number of smartphone apps appeared that allow for heart rate measurements basing on the photoplethysmography principle. In fact, almost every smartphone now has a camera with flash that could be used for that. Some studies appeared on the reliability of some of those apps, with heterogeneous results.

Objectives: The present study aims at adding up evidence in particular during physical activity, by comparing 3 apps on two different platforms (IOs and Android), on a broad range of heart rates. As gold standard, heart rate has been measured with a traditional heart rate monitor.

Results: The results suggest that heart rate apps might be used for measuring heart rate for fitness aims for many individuals, but further research is needed to i) analyse influence of smartphone features; ii) identify personal factors hindering measurements, and iii) verify reliability on different measurement sites.


telemedicine; mobile applications; heart rate; fitness trackers; physical fitness; exercise

Full Text:



Allen J (2007). Photoplethysmography and its application in clinical physiological measurement. Physiological Measurement Vol.28, pp.R1-R39.

Pelegris P, Banitsas K, Orbach T, and Marias K (2010). A novel method to detect heart beat rate using a mobile phone. Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Vol.2010, pp.5488-5491.

Gregoski MJ, Mueller M, Vertegel A, Shaporev A, Jackson BB, Frenzel RM, Sprehn SM, and Treiber FA (2012). Development and validation of a smartphone heart rate acquisition application for health promotion and wellness telehealth applications. International Journal of Telemedicine Applications Vol.2012, 696324.

Matsumura K, Rolfe P, and Yamakoshi T (2015). iPhysioMeter: a smartphone photoplethysmograph for measuring various physiological indices. Methods in Molecular Biology Vol.1256, pp.305-326.

Ho CL, Fu YC, Lin MC, Chan SC, Hwang B, and Jan SL (2014). Smartphone applications (apps) for heart rate measurement in children: comparison with electrocardiography monitor. Pediatric Cardiology Vol 35 No. 4, pp.726-731.

Losa-Iglesias ME, Becerro-de-Bengoa-Vallejo R, and Becerro-de-Bengoa-Losa KR (2016). Reliability and concurrent validity of a peripheral pulse oximeter and health-app system for the quantification of heart rate in healthy adults. Health Informatics Journal Vol.22 No.2, pp. 151-159.

Cheatham SW, Kolber MJ, and Ernst MP (2015). Concurrent validity of resting pulse-rate measurements: a comparison of 2 smartphone applications, the polar h7 belt monitor, and a pulse oximeter with bluetooth. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation Vol. 24 No.2, pp.171-178.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

This is an open access journal, which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or their institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal starting from Volume 21 without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open accessFor permission regarding papers published in previous volumes, please contact us.

Privacy statement: The names and email addresses entered in this journal site will be used exclusively for the stated purposes of this journal and will not be made available for any other purpose or to any other party.

Online ISSN 2058-4563 - Print ISSN 2058-4555. Published by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT