Researchers have been working on a smartphone app that could help detect ear infections in children.
According to the NPR reports, the app uses the smartphone’s microphone, speaker and a small paper cone. The app will send short, sound pulses through a paper funnel and into the ear canal, which then measures the echo of that sound. An algorithm will be used to read that echo to predict whether there is fluid behind the eardrum, which is one of the common symptoms of otitis media (ear infection).
Researchers from the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute have released their initial findings that were published in Science Translational Medicine.
The study included about 50 children who had their ears checked with the app. The researchers found that the tool was correct approximately 85 percent of the time, the figure that is comparable to the technology used in clinical settings.
“However, the app is still in development, and it will need FDA approval before it hits the market,” according to the NPR.
The researchers opine that this tool might help parents detect ear infections. However, specialists have pointed out that not all fluid behind the eardrum indicates otitis media.
Earlier this year, the Apple Watch heart monitor, which can help detect arrhythmias, also faced similar concerns. Some specialist feared that using apps or smart-watches could provide results that are false positives; however, a recent study by Stanford University has suggested otherwise.
Undeniably, health-based apps are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, the FDA has approved products such as a personal ECG device, a contraceptive app, and an app-connected inhaler. And the approval of these products which might help pave the way for other products.