iPhone App Diagnoses Disease Through Sound

A new iPhone app by Star Analytical Services promises to let users become their own DIY doctors.

A new iPhone app by Star Analytical Services promises to let users become their own DIY doctors.

The software is designed to diagnose respiratory disease using the sound of a cough. It works by simply coughing into the microphone of an iPhone, and the sound is compared against a database of coughs which indicate various maladies.

Healthcare workers are already trained to diagnose and differentiate between problems such as pneumonia and the common cold by sound, so this app is a logical next step.

Next Nature reports:

Doctors generally classify coughs as wet or dry, with a subcategory of productive or nonproductive, a reference to the presence or production of mucous in the lungs. Most health care professionals can distinguish between the two kinds, and each kind gives subtle hints about whether a person has a bacterial or viral infection. Scientists think there is much more information hidden in coughs though, and are trying to tease out that information by analyzing specific sounds inside coughs.

“We are relying on doctors and nurses with good old technology from the 19th century,” Suzanne Smith of Star tells Discovery News. “Why haven’t we been measuring coughs?”

The software would compare one recording to a database of cough samples that contain the sounds of all known respiratory diseases from people of both genders, and various ages and weights. The researchers anticipate needing about 1,000 recordings for the software to be truly effective.

[Next Nature via Bruce Sterling]

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