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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 159-164

Applicability of android application-based metronome in physiological tests

1 Department of Physiology, MKCG Medical College, Ganjam, Odisha, India
2 Department of Physiology, Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Web Publication20-Jul-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Himel Mondal
Department of Physiology, MKCG Medical College, Ganjam - 760 004, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_178_16

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BACKGROUND: Metronomes are commonly used by musicians for maintaining desired tempo. It is being used in various physiological tests for decades. Software application-based metronomes are available free of cost for Android devices.
AIM: The aim of the study was to evaluate the applicability of android application-based metronome for physiological tests.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: “Study of Human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph” and “Queens College Step Test for V.O2 maxmeasurement” were carried out in control group (n = 7) aided with mechanical metronome and in the test group (n = 7) with android application metronome. Ratio of error events to total events were recorded for each test. The sound pressure level (SPL) (dB) was measured for mechanical and android application metronome for comparison.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Data were expressed in mean and standard deviation. Unpaired t-test was used to compare mean of study and control group.
RESULTS: The ratio of error in synchronized flexion to total flexion events of finger in “Study of Human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph” with mechanical metronome (0.047 ± 0.008) was significantly (P = 0.0003) higher than android application metronome (0.026 ± 0.007). The ratio of error in steps to total steps in “Queens College Step Test for V.O2 maxmeasurement” with mechanical metronome (0.012 ± 0.007) and android application metronome (0.013 ± 0.005) was not significantly different (P = 0.8818). The SPL of mechanical metronome was lower (53.04 ± 2.79 dB) than mobile device application-based metronome (65.19 ± 2.61 dB) (P < 0.0001) in similar ambience.
CONCLUSION: Android application-based metronome is better than mechanical metronome for tests requiring lower beats per minute. It may be considered as an alternative to mechanical metronome.

Keywords: Application-based metronome, metronome, Mosso's Ergograph, physiological test, Queen's College Step Test, sound pressure level

How to cite this article:
Mondal H, Mondal S. Applicability of android application-based metronome in physiological tests. Int J Health Allied Sci 2018;7:159-64

How to cite this URL:
Mondal H, Mondal S. Applicability of android application-based metronome in physiological tests. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Sep 19];7:159-64. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2018/7/3/159/237261

  Introduction Top

Metronome is a device that is used to mark time at adjustable regular interval which is expressed visually and/or audibly. It is commonly used by musicians.[1] In general, the use of metronome is to indicate the speed of movement and not necessarily count time. Despite criticism, it is being used by thousands of musicians for maintaining the desired tempo. It especially helps new learners to adjust the cadence.[2] The technology of metronome has passed through different phases starting from Maelzel's technology to modern day's electronic and application-based metronome.[3]

The basis of adaptation of metronome in physiology and medicine is similar to music; for maintaining a perfect cadence. During submaximal exercise step test, a verbal command may not be at perfect interval. In contrast, the pacing can be maintained at perfect interval by using a metronome. It can be used in any test, diagnosis or treatment procedure where a cadence is desired.[4],[5],[6],[7] It can be also used for calibration of cycle ergometer.[8] A perfect rate of chest compression in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be maintained by the use of a metronome.[9],[10],[11]

A mechanical metronome in physiology laboratory is being used by physiologist from historical time to date. In many settings, it is being replaced by electronic metronome due to easy availability and lower cost. In an age of internet, we can easily access websites which offer web-based metronome.[12],[13] However, internet connectivity may be an issue in some settings. To overcome this issue, metronome software application can be installed on mobile devices. It facilitates users to access the metronome easily for any tests without headache of carrying an extra device or internet connection.

With this background, the aim of this study was to test the applicability of android application-based metronome in different physiological tests.

  Materials and Methods Top

A cross-sectional study was carried out from October 2016 to November 2016 in the Postgraduate research laboratory of the department of physiology after obtaining clearance from Institutional Ethics Committee. For the study, we used a mobile device software application metronome and a mechanical metronome.

Mobile device and metronome application selection

Android is an open source operating system (OS) and it is the most popular mobile OS globally.[14] Hence, an Android OS-based mobile device was used in this study. The specification of the mobile phone was as follows: 1 GB RAM, 1.2 GHz Quad-core CPU, Android OS version 4.4.4. The mobile device was certified to comply with the sound pressure level (SPL) requirement in the applicable EN 50332-1 and/or EN 50332-2 standards.[15]

For the selection of suitable android application, our aim was to get a free of cost, advertisement free, and easy to use android application with simplified user interface (UI). We searched the word “metronome” in Google Play and selected first 5 free applications with user rating ≥4.5. After installing the applications, we used the application to write a quick tutorial of the functions and navigations of each of the application. Twenty-six of our colleague who were using android touchscreen mobile devices for ≥6 months were included as a convenience sample to rate the application in 5 point Likert-type scale. Rating was recorded in three sections: (1) simplicity of UI, (2) ease to change the BPM, and (3) suitable for use in Physiology/Medicine.

Recorded responses were tabulated and analyzed. The highest score was for B'Metronome (sZpak, Bielsko-Biała, Poland).[16] The application version was 0.9.14. Size of the application was ~512 kB. Available beats per minute (BPM) range was 20–900. Minimum OS requirement for the application was Android 2.2 and above. Home screen of UI contains pre-selected BPM for easy selection on the middle of the screen [Figure 1]. Manual tempo range selector is on the left lower portion where we can select the desired BPM from range between 20 and 900 BPM. On the right lower corner, the play/pause button is present.
Figure 1: Mechanical metronome (left) and Mobile device (right) with user interface of an android application-based metronome (B'Metronome). (1: Scale of tempo; 2: Adjustable weight on metallic bar; and 3: Hook)

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Mechanical metronome

A mechanical metronome, available in the postgraduate research laboratory, was used for the study. It has a metallic bell which when hit by hitting point produces sound. There is a scale of tempo fixed on the wooden frame from 40 BPM (Grave: Very slow tempo for musician) to 208 BPM (Prestissimo: Faster than Presto tempo for musician). There is a metallic bar/rod with adjustable metallic weight in front of the scale which swings with beats. The position of the weight can be changed up and down to set the BPM. The metronome has a hook on the top of the device and if we hang it with rope, it will remain in balanced position [Figure 1].

Feasibility test in practical physiology

  1. Study of Human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph: The test was carried out in an air-conditioned room to avoid noise produced by electrical fan. The measured average noise level of the room was 28 dB (Maximum 35 dB and Minimum 22 dB). The relative position of the subject, Mosso's Ergograph and Metronome is shown in [Figure 2]. As the human auditory system analyze only direct sound and ignore reflected sound,[17] we conducted the experiment in the postgraduate research laboratory with concrete wall. “Study of Human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph” test was carried out according to guidelines provided in “A Textbook of Practical Physiology by CL Ghai,”[18] in 14 otherwise healthy medical students of the age group of 18–25 years after taking written consent. Participants were divided randomly into two equal groups. Seven participants (control group) undergone test aided with the sound produced by mechanical metronome. Participants were briefed about the test procedure and a trial was conducted before the actual test. The mechanical metronome did not have the facility to set the BPM at 30. Hence, it was set at 60 BPM. Participants were instructed to flex the middle finger immediately after hearing alternate beat. A study group of 7 participants undergone the same test with mobile application metronome (30 BPM). However, for the test with application-based metronome, participants were instructed to flex the middle finger immediately after hearing each beat. The mechanical Metronome and Mobile device both were placed 3 feet away from the right ear of the participants at the level of ear as shown in [Figure 2]. Errors in flexion of the fingers were noted, and it was divided by the total flexion done for the test, and this ratio was stored for statistical analysis.
  2. Queens College Step Test for V.O2 max measurement: The test was carried out according to “ACSM's Health-Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual”,[8] with 14 participants after taking written consent. Participants were briefed about the test procedure and a trial was conducted before the actual test. All the participants were male medical student in the age group of 18–25 years. Hence, the cadence was set at 96 BPM to coordinate each leg movement with the beat. Mechanical metronome and mobile device with software-based metronome both were set at a level of average height of highest (on the bench) and lowest position (on the floor) of the participant. They were placed 3 feet away from the right ear. Control group (n = 7) were undergone test with mechanical metronome and study group (n = 7) with android application metronome. The desired pacing was 288 (3 min × 24 completed cycle = 3 × 96 beats = 288 beats). The missed pacing was noted and it was divided by 288 and the data were kept for statistical analysis.
Figure 2: Relative position of subject, Mosso's Ergograph and metronome during study of human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph (1: Metronome; 2: Mosso's Ergograph; 3: Right ear of subject; and 4: Table)

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Test for sound pressure level

Android application-based SPL meter was used to record the SPL in dB. The recorder microphone was placed at 3 feet away from the sound source (mechanical metronome or speaker of mobile). The SPL was measured for mechanical metronome and application-based metronome for consecutive 3 min duration at a cadence of 60 BPM. The results were stored for statistical analysis.

Statistical analysis

The ratio of error events to total events in two physiological tests was tabulated and expressed in mean and standard deviation (SD). The SPL of two types of metronome were also expressed in mean and SD. The mean of control and study groups was tested statistically by unpaired t-test. Two tail P ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

  Results Top

Two physiological tests - “Study of Human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph” and “Queens College Step Test for V.O2 max measurement” were conducted successfully in study group with android application metronome. The ratio of error in synchronized flexion to total flexion of finger in “Study of Human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph” aided with mechanical metronome was 0.047 ± 0.008 (Mean ± SD). This ratio with android application metronome was 0.026 ± 0.007. The difference was statistically significant (P = 0.0003) [Table 1].
Table 1: Ratio of missed events to total events in tests carried out with mechanical and mobile application metronome

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The ratio of error in steps to total steps in “Queens College Step Test for V.O2 max measurement” aided with mechanical metronome was 0.012 ± 0.007 and android application metronome was 0.013 ± 0.005 and the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.8818) [Table 1].

The SPL (dB) of mechanical metronome was 53.04 ± 2.79 dB and application-based metronome with the highest volume of speakers of the device was 65.19 ± 2.61 dB. The difference of mean SPL in two types of metronome was statistically significant (P < 0.0001). The 30 s tracing of SPL of mechanical metronome and Android mobile application metronome at a rate of 60 BPM are shown in [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Recorded sound pressure level (dB) of mechanical metronome (a) and mobile software application metronome with highest volume of speaker of the device (b) for 30 s

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  Discussion Top

The purpose of this study was to find out a zero cost, easily accessible alternative to mechanical metronome. For the alternative, we may use online metronome or mobile application-based metronome. The websites which provide online metronomes are free to use. However, the need of internet connection is unavoidable. Many of these websites require updated java software to run the metronome software in the browser. These websites can be accessed through desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Using online metronome in desktop and laptop may be disadvantageous for placing it near the participant. These hurdles can be leapt over with the use of mobile device application. The finding of this study suggests that mobile device can effectively serve as a substitute of mechanical metronome.

Mobile devices are easy to carry, and it is usually lightweight to set at particular position. Using software metronome also eliminates the burden of carrying a separate metronome device for any field-based test. The finding of this study established that software metronome is better for tests where <40 BPM are required. The probable reason behind it may be the fact that the participants need to pay more attention to act on alternative beats in case of mechanical beats. In android application metronome, this problem can be avoided as we can set it at any BPM from 20 to 900. However, the lower BPM problem can be overcome by procuring a mechanical metronome with lower tempo option (Larghissimo: Very, very slow tempo of 24 BPM for musician) with the option to adjust metallic weight at 30 BPM.

Before using mechanical metronome, counting beats for a minute is suggested for confirmation of desired cadence. This is a rough calibration of the device. However, a perfect counting may be difficult while metronome is set at higher BPM. This error can be avoided by using software application metronome where we can select the BPM. The metronome software can generate audio at a particular Hertz (e.g., 44100 Hertz). First, 1 s is divided into 44100 times, and then, it can be used to generate sound at a particular gap according to the need. As long as the clock of the mobile device keeps running perfectly, the metronome will provide accurate beats. Hence, the chances of error are virtually zero with cautious use.

Another advantage of software metronome is an option to regulate the speaker volume level of the mobile device or laptop. For outdoor exercise test or any field test, we cannot connect the mechanical metronome to amplifier speaker. In some settings, a desired metronome beat is recorded and then played with an audio player.[19] In contrast, with mobile device software metronome, we can easily connect it to any amplifier speaker system. Furthermore, we can use wireless speakers and control the BPM from a convenient distance. A comparative list of advantages and disadvantages of mechanical and android application-based metronome are provided in [Table 2].
Table 2: Comparison of features of mechanical metronome and mobile application metronome

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The use of mobile application-based metronome must be done with some precautions. The mobile device should have sufficient battery for a long duration use. This is particularly important when there is no alternative device or other metronomes. During any test procedure, the mobile device must have the operator network in offline mode to prevent any calls or messages to receive in the device. Otherwise, incoming calls or messages may interrupt the beats. The different mobile device has different speaker position. Hence, an arrangement to hold the mobile device at desired position with speaker toward the participant is necessary. A summary of guidelines for using mobile application-based metronome is given in Text [Box 1].

Botelho et al.,[9] Liu et al.,[10] and Rasmussen et al.[11] suggested the use of metronome for CPR for maintenance of chest compression rate. In their study, they used the metronome in hospital. In the outdoor emergency situation, where mechanical/electrical metronome may not be easily available, mobile device can play a major role to serve as metronome.

The use of mobile device as metronome needs a huge self-motivation because we need to sacrifice the call and messaging facility of the device for the time span of using metronome. Institution may buy a mechanical or electronic metronome for using it in laboratory, but institution may not buy mobile phone for the sole purpose of a metronome. Hence, this creates a barrier for using software metronome as primary device in the laboratory. However, it may serve as an effective alternative to mechanical/electrical metronome. Sometime, it may be difficult to find a repairing facility for the mechanical metronome. Moreover, the window period before the repairing is done can be managed efficiently by mobile device-based metronome. Another advantage of using software-based metronome is that it virtually eliminates any need of maintenance.

When the SPL of mechanical metronome and mobile device-based metronome was compared [Figure 3], the mobile device was found to be capable of producing higher SPL. Furthermore, the SPL in mobile device can be controlled. This facility is not available in mechanical metronome.


This study has several limitations. We used the Android application-based SPL monitor which has limited decibel level. Although it did not interfere with the result as we did a comparative study, however, further studies with high precision SPL monitor may provide more accurate result. The feasibility tests were conducted on a limited sample size according to available logistics. Further studies with larger sample size would reflect more precise result. Hence, the result of this study should be interpreted with caution.

  Conclusion Top

Android application-based metronome can be used effectively in “Study of Human Fatigue by Mosso's Ergograph” and “Queens College Step Test for V.O2 max measurement”. This indicates probable applicability of mobile application metronome in other physiological tests. Mobile devices may serve as an alternative to mechanical metronome. Application-based metronome is better than mechanical metronome for tests where lower BPM is required.


We would like to thank Mr. Andrew Stone of Stonekick Limited, Mr. Marcin Szpak, developer of B'Metronome (www. BestMetronome.com), and Mr. Avijit Roy of Roy Tech Tips for their help regarding technical details of android application-based metronome and precautions about its use. We acknowledge the help of Dr. Soumik Saha, Senior Resident, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal. We also thank the participant students for taking part in the study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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