SEATTLE (Diya TV) — Indian-American scientists at the University of Washington have developed a new sensor that can accurately measure lung function during the process of making a phone call — not just a smartphone — from anywhere in the world.
The new tool has been fittingly named SpiralCall.
“We wanted to be able to measure lung function on any type of phone you might encounter around the world — smartphones, dumb phones, landlines, pay phones,” said Shwetak Patel, professor at the University of Washington.
“With SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone and use the telephone network to test your lung function,” he added.
Patients take a deep breath in and exhale as hard and quickly as they can, repeatedly until they can’t exhale any longer. The phone’s microphone senses sound and pressure during the process of exhaling, sends the data to a central server, which then uses specific algorithms to convert the data into standard measurements of lung function.
“People have to manage chronic lung diseases for their entire lives,” lead author Mayank Goel, computer science and engineering doctoral student at the university said. “So there’s a real need to have a device that allows patients to accurately monitor their condition at home without having to constantly visit a medical clinic, which in some places requires hours or days of travel.”
SpiroCall is a graduated product from SpiroSmart, which was introduced by the same researchers in 2012 in an effort to help people monitor their lung functionality by blowing into their smartphones. Over the last four years the team has collected data from more than 4,000 patients who have visited clinics in the Seattle and Tacoma areas, as well as India and Bangladesh.
During the time spent collecting data from patients in India and Bangladesh, researchers found that many don’t own smartphones, leaving them unable to use SpiroSmart in their homes — a key element of the project.
The tool’s efficiency will be tested by medical professionals for accuracy, with the results being published in a paper to be presented this month in the Bay Area during Computing Machinery’s CHI 2016 conference.