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Professor Shwetak Patel Delivers NSF CISE Distinguished Lecture on Health Mobile Apps

February 17, 2017

Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering Shwetak Patel

Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor Shwetak Patel

Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in EE and CSE Shwetak Patel gave a lecture at the National Science Foundation’s Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Distinguished Lecture Series. In the lecture, Patel introduced his groundbreaking research in smartphone health monitoring.

Patel and his colleagues are using mobile phones as monitoring devices for health metrics, ranging from pulmonary function to hemoglobin counts. The phone apps, including SpiroSmart, SpiroCall and HemaApp are currently going through the Food and Drug Administration’s clearance process for clinical testing. They’re likely to become the focus for Senosis Health, a venture co-founded by Patel that’s currently in startup mode.

Patel’s vision is to provide new lines of screening tools that offer a first line of defense against health conditions, ranging from asthma to anemia and jaundice. The smartphone app tracks potential problems, alerting a user to seek further screening and professional care if an issue is detected.

“If you think about the capabilities on a mobile device, if you look at the camera, the flash, the microphone, those are all getting better and better,” Patel said in the talk. “In fact, capabilities on those phones are as great as some of the specialized devices…. Those sensors that are already on the mobile phone can be repurposed in interesting new ways, where you can actually use those for diagnosing certain kinds of diseases.”

With SpiroCall, a user blows into the microphone to record lung levels. “It’s just using the microphone as a flowmeter,” Patel explained. With proper calibration, the smartphone could provide data for a diagnosis of lung problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Patel not only discovered several different technologies, he and his team formulated one concept to meet the needs of many debilitating diseases. And if they receive FDA and medical marketplace approval, smartphone apps have the potential to change healthcare.

“[They] “could lead to some scientific discoveries that weren’t possible in the past,” Patel said.