Access to healthcare is essential to everyone on the planet, whether you鈥檙e a #girlboss in San Francisco or a senior living in a rural town in Bangladesh, but that access is often radically different for the two. However, researchers at the University of Washington are working hard to bridge that gap with the release of SpiroCall, a health-sensing tool that can measure a person鈥檚 lung function through any phone鈥檚 microphone, ANYWHERE in the world. They鈥檝e been testing the device in the US and developing countries for four years, and the findings of their study are set to be released this month in a paper presented at the Association for Computing Machinery鈥檚 CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, CA.


By simply blowing into any phone鈥檚 microphone, SpiroCall can measure someone鈥檚 lung function within 6.2 percent of clinical spirometer test results (a common in-person test for determining someone鈥檚 lung health), which is well within the medical community鈥檚 standards of accuracy. For patients struggling with asthma, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer or any other chronic lung diseases, SpiroCall has the potential to be a life-saving device, especially for patients living in rural or depressed areas who have limited-to-no access to smartphones, let alone hospitals and doctor鈥檚 offices.

鈥淲e wanted to be able to measure lung function on any type of phone you might encounter around the world 鈥 smartphones, dumb phones, landlines and pay phones,鈥 explains lead researcher, Shwetak Patel. 鈥淲ith SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone and use the telephone network to test your lung function.鈥 It鈥檚 pretty incredible that even a 10-year-old flip phone works with SpiroCall.


As chronic lung diseases are inherently long-term and often debilitating, the team made sure that SpiroCall works with even the most tenuous connections in the most remote, rural areas, testing throughout India and Bangladesh. Lead author of the paper, Mayank Goel, explains that 鈥渢here鈥檚 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.鈥

The team is currently testing the best methods of relaying the test results to the patients and making continued improvements on data collection. We鈥檙e so impressed by this tool, and the researchers鈥 effort to help improve lung health around the world.

Have you come across any extraordinarily cool health-related breakthroughs lately? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

(Photos via Getty)