Mar, 2021 - By WMR
The speaker is currently configured to allow for one-time tests in which a concerned patient can sit in front of it and have their heart rhythm read
Scientists at the University of Washington (UW) developed a prototype smart speaker that can track a person's heart without them having to touch it. In early trials, the contactless method of monitoring normal and abnormal heart rhythms appears to be a promising way to identify early signs of cardiac problems, with the system performing nearly as well as traditional monitors.
Rather than measuring an individual's heart rate, the University of Washington team set out to create a system that could track a user's heart rhythm, giving doctors a more accurate indication that something is wrong. The heart rhythm refers to the sequence of individual beats, which can differ as part of an irregular pattern, as opposed to the heart rate, which is simply an average of heartbeats over a period of time.
However, creating a system that can recognize a user's individual heartbeats is a difficult task. The researchers used a self-supervised machine learning algorithm, which differs from traditional machine learning algorithms in that it operates without being given a collection of labelled training data and improves its methods over time. Instead, this algorithm learns as it goes, in this case by tracking the various signals coming in from multiple microphones installed into a smart speaker prototype.
According to Dr. Arun Sridhar, the co-senior author of the study, heart rhythm problems are more common than any other well-known heart problems. He further stated that cardiac arrhythmias may result in significant morbidities such as strokes. However, their frequency is unpredictable, making them difficult to diagnose. For certain patients, the availability of a low-cost test that can be administered regularly and at home can be a game-changer in terms of early diagnosis and management.