From a research done at the Universty of Washington, an application on smartphones can turn the phone in to a short-range active sonar system to identify acute opioid toxicity. The application would be looking for respiratory depression, apnea, and gross motor movements.
Why this is important – Currently there is not a mobile system that can detect the symptoms of opioid overdose in real time. Currently, to identify opioid overdose, we have to rely on medical-grade equipment or trained recognition of diagnostic signs.
Why this is challenging – For this application to work, it will need access to patients and data while high-risk opiod use occurs. That can present a life threatening situation.
How to overcome it – They will test patients in two unique environments where it is heavily supervised.
The system uses a frequency-modulated continuous waveform (FMCW) and uses the smartphone’s speaker and microphone to turn it into a short-range active sonar system. The system then runs algorithms that detects frequency shifts.
In opioid-induced central apnea, the system identified 96% sensitivity and 98% specificity. In respiratory depression, the system identified 87% sensitivity and 89% specificity. These were two key events that commonly precede opioid overdose. The algorithm identified 19 of 20 simulated overdose events.
I think that this new application can be a low end market disruptive innovator. There will be no need for medical grade equipment or someone with trained recognition present. Going beyond just opioid overdoes, I think this can open doors to other health related issues. In a controlled testing environment, I think that there are endless possibilities as to what health related issues can be identified using your smartphone.
Study can be found here