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Smart assistants can identify problems in our heart

Having an assistant, like Siri, Alexa or Google, helps many people to entertain themselves, manage devices, obtain information or even obtain company. The fact is that there are other utilities that are appearing, and detecting heart problems is one of them.

New research has suggested that Amazon’s Alexa could be used to detect abnormal heart rates.

According to researchers from the University of Washington, there is a way to detect irregular heartbeats without the need for contact, and wizards could be used for this topic. They have created a system based on Artificial Intelligence that captures the vibrations caused by the close movements of the chest wall.

If we ever see this invention in practice, a doctor might ask us to approach our Alexa to take the measurement, something very important in telemedicine, as it would not require other portable devices or specialized health hardware.

Arun Sridhar was the professor responsible for the study, which is summarized as follows:

The system works by emitting audio signals into the room at a volume that humans cannot hear. As the pulses bounce off the speaker, an algorithm works to identify the beat patterns generated from a human’s chest wall. A second algorithm is then applied to determine the amount of time between two beats.

These intervals between beats will help to see how our heart is working, something that some portable devices already do, such as smart watches, but what is being tried is to carry out this monitoring without contact, or with the minimum possible.

So far, tests have been conducted with 26 healthy participants and 24 hospitalized patients with various heart conditions, including atrial fibrillation and heart failure. The patients were evaluated in their hospital rooms at UW Medical Center in Seattle and compared with measurements made with medical grade ECG monitors. The smart speaker readings turned out to be relatively accurate, only deviating from the ECG readings by an amount that was not medically relevant, according to the researchers.

The researchers used a developer version of Alexa with a low-quality speaker to run their tests, and they believe other more powerful ones could read from further afield.

But to go further, they believe that AI can be used to detect signs of sleep apnea, so we are only taking the first steps in an impressive sector.