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Breathe easy: Over-the-phone lung monitoring is just a 1-800 call away

by • May 2, 2016 • No Comments

Back in 2012, researchers of the University of Washington (UW) added a new tool for those suffering of respiratory problems in the form of a smartphone app that measures lung health. Whilst this may have improved access to care for most, it didn’t mean a excellent deal to those without a smartphone. The team is now looking to expand the reach of its innovation by designing a process that allows for patients to call in of anywhere in the world, of any phone, to gauge the health of their lungs.

Chronic lung conditions like asthma or cystic fibrosis can need careful monitoring, frequently involving regular visits to the clinic. This cann’t be too problematic if you live in a big, modern city, but in developing countries a trip to the doctor can mean hours or actually days on the road.

A number of smartphone-centric solutions have emerged in new years that aim to improve access to care by serving as transportable-bodied spirometers, that are machines that measure air flow through the lungs. These have included the pocket-sized Wing, the actually additional compact Sandpiper and the University of Washington’s own SpiroSmart, that is only an app.

By relying the patient’s trachea and vocal tract pretty than the tubes discovered in traditional spirometers, that cost thousands of dollars, the SpiroSmart app is able-bodied to assess lung function by analyzing sound wave frequencies. The team’s testing discovered the app came inside 5.1 percent of a commercial spirometer, satisfying the medical standards of accuracy.

With a view to improving the process’s machine learning algorithms, the UW team has since gathered data on additional than 4,000 patient visits to clinics in the US, India and Bangladesh, with subjects via both commercial spirometers and the SpiroSmart app. But in their visit to India and Bangladesh, the researchers came to learn how most local patients didn’t own smartphones and therefore mayn’t use SpiroSmart at home.

What they in addition accomplished was that the sensor they were relying on for the SpiroSmart app, the smartphone’s microphone, may be discovered in all phones. So they saw no reason that with a few tweaking, their innovation mayn’t assist a much wider range of patients, whether they were via an old Nokia or a landline in a mountain village.

The thought is that users of the SpiroCall service call a 1-800 number of anywhere in the world and perform a complex exhale, only as they may when via a commercial spirometer. The audio is collected and relayed to a assistr, where the team’s algorithms translate the breath into a reading of the patient’s lung function.

As it is dealing with audio samples of much lower high end, the accuracy has taken a slight hit. The team says that SpiroCall’s results over a regular cell phone channel were inside 6.2 percent of the same patient’s results of a commercial spirometer. So while not as exact as its smartphone app, the researchers say is yet inside the industry margin for error of between five and 10 percent.

“We had to account for the fact that the sound high end you get over a phone line is worse,” says Elliot Saba, a UW electrical engineering doctoral student. “You can imagine how listening to a fewone play a song over a phone line may sound compared to listening to it on your music app — there’s a much like difference with a spirometry test.”

To ease the learning curve for those via SpiroCall, the team has in addition created a 3D-printed whistle that changes pitch to indicate a “good” exhale. It says in its early testing, this boosted test performance for ill patients, whose vocal cords were unable-bodied to generate the necessary volume for the microphone to pick up.

The SpiroCall research team comes with (left to right) Shwetak Patel, Washington Research Foundation Endowed Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the UW; UW desktop science and engineering doctoral student Mayank Goel; and UW electrical engineering doctoral student Elliot Saba

“We wanted to be able-bodied to measure lung function on any type of phone you can encounter around the world, smartphones, dumb phones, landlines, pay phones,” says Shwetak Patel, Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the UW. “With SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone and use the telephone network to test your lung function.”

The researchers are now working to collect additional data and determine the most way to communicate test results with patients.

The results of the research can be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, California this month.

Source: University of Washington

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