“Alexa, do I have arrhythmia?”: How they use smart speakers to detect people with heart problems
With a Google Home or an Amazon Echo they can detect possible cardiac arrests or monitor babies’ breathing. At a distance, without the need for contact. Now a research from the University of Washington has gone above and beyond to detect small changes in breathing and anticipate heart rhythm disorders and arrhythmias.
Using simple smart speakers like those of the best-known brands, the researchers have created a system capable of capturing the vibrations caused by movements close to the chest wall. A job that, if implemented, could be tremendous help for the field of telemedicine by saving the need for health devices.
Smart Home Speakers Can Help Doctors
“Can we use the smart speaker for something more useful?” Asks Shyam Gollakota, a computer science professor at the University of Washington and a co-author of the report. Your answer is yes. Through a software update, these speakers could expand your health capabilities.
Via inaudible audio signals in the room, an algorithm could “hear” how these pulses bounce through our body and how they interact with our heartbeat patterns. With algorithms and artificial intelligence, the system is capable of detecting irregularities in our heart rate. That is, the speaker would emit a sound that we are not able to hear but it would serve to bounce these waves off our body and use it to read about our heart rate.
“With this method we do not get the electrical signal from the contracting heart. watching the vibrations in the skin when the heart beats“explains Anran Wang, the study’s principal investigator.
Using technology to stay ahead of heart problems is not new. The Apple Watch offers this possibility. But now the job of these researchers is to achieve this only with the speakers we have at home.
The project initially introduced in 2019, with a smart speaker prototype and with a study tested with 26 healthy patients and 24 hospitalized, with various problems of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. With this group, the results obtained by their algorithm were compared with that of professional ECG sensors. The result was a “medically irrelevant” deviation, as the researchers explain.
The tests used an Alexa device from several years ago, but with the advent of smart speakers with better microphones, more accurate results could be obtained.
The results have been published this week in the journal Nature and they are waiting for the FDA, the US Food and Drug Administration, accept the use of these algorithms.
As Dr. Arun Sridhar, assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, explains: “We can monitor a patient and define patterns that are individualized. For example, we can find out when arrhythmias occur for each specific patient. This is the future of cardiology. And the beauty of using these types of devices is that they are already in patients’ homes. “
Via | Washington Post