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New Health Sensing Tool Measures Lung Function Over a Phone Call, From Anywhere in the World


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SpiroCall enables patients to measure lung function over a phone call.

SpiroCall, which enables patients to measure lung function over a phone call, is designed to work with any type of telephone.

Credit: University of Washington

University of Washington (UW) researchers have developed SpiroCall, a health-sensing tool that can accurately measure lung function over a phone call.

The researchers note SpiroCall meets the medical community's standards for accuracy, having produced results that come within 6.2% of results from clinical spirometers used in hospitals and doctor's offices.

"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," says UW professor Shwetak Patel. "With SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone, and use the telephone network to test your lung function."

In 2012, researchers from UbiComp Lab introduced a smartphone version called SpiroSmart. Users take a deep breath and exhale, and a phone's microphone senses sound and pressure from that exhalation and sends the data to a central server, which uses machine-learning algorithms to convert the data into standard measurements of lung function.

Over the past four years, the UW team has collected data from more than 4,000 patients who have had their lung function measured using both SpiroSmart and a commercial spirometer. They report comparative data has improved the performance of the algorithms.

The researchers will present a paper on their work this month at the ACM CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, CA.

From UW Today
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