App lets you monitor lung health using only a smartphone

[Excerpted from UW Today]

A new tool from researchers at the University of Washington, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s hospital lets people monitor their lung function at home or on the go simply by blowing into their smartphones. A paper presented this month at the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing showed results that came within 5 percent of commercial devices, meaning it already meets the medical community’s standards for accuracy.

“There’s a big need in the pulmonary community to make testing cheaper and more convenient,” said lead researcher Shwetak Patel, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering and of electrical engineering. “Other people have been working on attachments for the mobile phone that you can blow into. We said, ‘Let’s just try to figure out how to do it with the microphone that’s already there.’”

A grant from the Coulter Foundation will fund more clinical testing with patients of varying ages and lung health, and help the team to seek Food and Drug Administration approval. The researchers are working with the UW’s Center for Commercialization to bring the technology to market.

“Portable glucometers have dramatically changed glucose monitoring and improved the quality of life for people with diabetes,” Patel said. “We hope to do the same thing for pulmonary disorders.”

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