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An App for Breathing Easier — Yes it Exists

June 20th, 2013

Sure there are a lot of apps for the iOS and Android platforms that involve breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation; but engineers from the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and UW Medicine, actually created an app called SpiroSmart The app helps to test lung function. It provides a mobile platform for spirometry, helping doctors detect any problems that could be hampering a person’s ability to breathe.

“One of the major causes of illness has to do with the lungs,” said Eric Larson, a lead author of the app. “If we can catch a problem early, it can make all the difference. Getting involved with pulmonologists the question became: ‘How do you make a low-cost barometer for lung health?’

Leveraging the Mobile Microphone

Larson’s team had to tweak their algorithms to properly interpret the data that comes from someone blowing into their mobile microphone. Much time was spent on the best ways to read what is essentially an audio signal. The SpiroSmart app offers accuracy within five percent of commercially available lung instruments.

The app also does a nice job guiding the user through performing the test at home. It makes sure the proper test is being run. The entire lung test system, including the app, is currently undergoing a clinical trial period before approval is sought from the FDA.

A Low Cost Option for Spirometry

The researchers hope that SpiroSmart provides a low-cost option for lung telemetry, allowing patients to test out their own lung function at home, and helping doctors check on the efficacy of any treatment plans. A professional spirometer can cost upwards of $3,000, so this app can hopefully bring a similar capability for a mere fraction of the cost.

The software developers working on the SpiroSmart project prove once again that engineering can impact humanity in so many positive ways. Does this kind of engineering work inspire you to take your career to the next level? If so, talk to the engineering staffing experts at The Talley Group, one of the leading engineering recruitment firms in the Northwestern United States. They have the staff on hand to help you improve your career.

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