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Test your lung health by breathing at your cell phone?

Posting in Science

Smartphones nowadays can do everything from give you GPS directions to play you episodes of the Daily Show.

And now, researchers at the University of Washington have figured out how to use your phone to test your lung health.

Patients who have lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and cystic fibrosis have their lung health measured using a spirometer, which records what volume of air is breathed in and out. The amount of air breathed out indicates if a patient's air passages are clogged.

Members of computer science professor Shwetak Patel's lab figured out how your phone's microphone could act as a spirometer. Using the sound waves recorded when you breathe out, they are able to estimate how much air you exhale. As MIT Technology Review reports, "In experiments with the iPhone 4S, the system seemed reliable and comparable to home spirometry tests. The group presented that at the UbiComp 2012 conference in September last year."

The way it would work is that the user would call a number and leave a voicemail of an exhalation. Even basic phones, such as those common in developing countries, work well, suggesting that phones could be sued to detect lung disease and monitor lung health remotely.

The system, tentatively called SpiroCall, could then text users their results. But don't hold your breath for a commercial version just yet. The researchers need to continue testing it before it comes to market.

See how it can be used here:

Related on SmartPlanet:

via: MIT Technology Review

— By on January 14, 2013, 12:10 PM PST

Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure