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Researchers in UW’s UbiComp Lab turn any phone into a health sensing tool

Shwetak Patel, Mayank Goel, Elliot Saba

SpiroCall team members, from left: Shwetak Patel, Mayank Goel and Elliot Saba

Researchers in the UbiComp Lab led by UW CSE and EE professor Shwetak Patel have come up with a way to measure lung function using any phone, anywhere in the world. SpiroCall accurately measures lung function over a telephone call, enabling patients and doctors to monitor chronic lung diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis without requiring frequent visits to a clinic. The project extends the benefits of SpiroSmart, the smartphone app developed by the same team of researchers as an alternative to the traditional spirometry test, to people who only have access to older style mobile phones or landlines.

From the UW News release:

“‘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…’With SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone and use the telephone network to test your lung function’….

“‘People have to manage chronic lung diseases for their entire lives,’ said lead author Mayank Goel, a UW CSE doctoral student. ‘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.'”

Co-authors include UW EE Ph.D. students Elliot Saba and Josh Fromm, UW CSE Ph.D. student Eric Whitmire, former high school intern and California Institute of Technology freshman Maia Stiber, UW EE Ph.D. alum Eric Larson (now on the faculty of Southern Methodist University), and the late UW CSE professor Gaetano Borriello.

The researchers will present SpiroCall at the CHI 2016 conference that begins later this week in San Jose, California.

Read the full news release here, and check out the project web page here. Read the research paper here, and watch the YouTube video here.

Photo credit: Dennis Wise/University of Washington

May 2, 2016