Living With CFRespiratory DiseaseTechnology

SpiroCall: Lung Function Measured by Phone

Regular measurement in lung function changes through spirometry testing, is a vital part of monitoring cystic fibrosis symptoms. As this is test requires special equipment, a tool that can perform this test through a phone could bring spirometry to more patients.

Computer scientists and engineers at the University of Washington have developing SpiroCall, a tool that can measure lung function through a phone – any phone – including smartphones, flip-phones, landlines or payphones.

From the article in Scientific News Today:

A paper to be presented in May at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, Calif., shows that SpiroCall’s results came within 6.2 percent of results from clinical spirometers used in hospitals and doctor’s offices, meaning it meets the medical community’s standards for accuracy.

“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, Washington Research Foundation Endowed Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the UW. “With SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone and use the telephone network to test your lung function.”

For the full research paper on SpiroCall, click here.

This technology will allow access to pulmonary function testing to people in the developing world who otherwise may have had no testing available to them or who had to travel long distances for testing. It will also help people worldwide whose illness or risk of cross-infection make home spirometry beneficial.

The video below describes the goals of SpiroCall and shows it in action.


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1 Comment

  1. May 18, 2016 at 1:54 am

    What an elegant solution for remote or rural patients needing access to a doctor who needs respiratory data from the patient! The fact that it can be made by a 3D printer is icing on the cake.

    A number of us have been working on providing the CFer with telemedicine based solutions. Logging vitals like temperature, pulse-ox, blood pressure, blood sugar and FEV is coming together. Many doctors visits could happen in the comfort of one’s home, with nothing more than than the telephone and the above mentioned vitals.

    I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s inevitable that someday soon, an app and some clever interfaces like a spirometry unit that translates FEV into a “whistle” that transmits high quality, real time data through most any telephone is brilliant in the simplicity and elegance of working with low technology and the latest IPhone. This is SO important.

    My wife and I started a business making prototype automation in 1983. The Apple II, Apples first computer that you didn’t order from Steve’s parent’s home address, (That was the Apple 1, sold for $666.66) and geeks like me didn’t appreciate that this puny Personal Computer was the first computer in most customer’s facilities.

    Having a spirometer that works reliably from a Hotel room phone in Gdansk Poland. Understand that I sold an electronic products prototyping system to Polish Telecom in Gdansk in 1989. The phone calls from all people went through a monitoring system in Warsaw, regardless of where the call originated from and where the recipient was. A call from my hotel room to the Chemist, or Pharmacy in the hotel lobby went 500 miles round-trip instead of 500 feet, the probable wire length. Calls were clear, limited between 120Hz to 15KHz and business hours were unreliable.

    This wasn’t a big surprise. Every customer of ours required at least one service call to remove unwanted software from games to accounting software. The whole idea behind our automation was an infinitely upgradeable controller and not something obsolete in 2-3 years. In the U.S. and most of Europe, infrastructure is pretty reliable. Most of the world doesn’t see value in electrical grounding. No 3 wire plugs. In most places we provided a huge non interruptible power supply and a professionally installed grounding rod, which was quickly overloaded with all the new capital equipment needing an earth ground.

    We often imagine what the rest of the world does to make low cost goods. Fortunately the telecom industry knows how to reduce electrical noise and these scientists understand that the world is full of inconsistencies. Well done and simple elegance is invention.