It may not be long now before those suffering from asthma or other chronic lung problems can accurately measure lung health at home by simply blowing into their smartphones.
Researchers at the University of Washington, UW Medicine and Seattle Children’s hospital have developed a new iPhone app used to measure lung function — producing results within 5.1 percent of those from a commercial portable spirometer that costs thousands of dollars.
The best news is that these results “already meet the medical community’s standards for accuracy” according to the University of Washington.
Results from testing the SpiroSmart app on an iPhone 4S, were presented earlier this month at the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Conference on Ubiquitous Computing.
“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 in the Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering departments.
While others have been working on developing attachments for patients to blow into a mobile phone, lead researcher Shwetak Patel, decided to forego the use of attachments in favor of relying only on the iPhone’s built-in microphone for spirometry sensing.
“The tests are very promising,” said co-author Dr. Margaret Rosenfeld, an associate professor at UW Medicine and a pulmonary specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “Both providers and patients are very excited” about the possibility of home tests, she added.
Clinical testing with patients of varying ages and lung health is being funded by a grant from the W.H. Coulter Foundation, as the research team along with UW’s Center for Commercialization seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration in order to bring their breakthrough technology to market.
“Portable glucometers have dramatically changed glucose monitoring and improved the quality of life for people with diabetes,” Patel said in a press release. “We hope to do the same thing for pulmonary disorders.”
The video below shows the app in action.