Researchers at the University of Washington claim they have created an app, called EarHealth, that is able to detect ear infections by listening to fluid in the ear.
Users would just need their smartphone and a folded up piece of paper. The app will listen to the ear and be able to determine if there is fluid present, which is the case when someone has an infection.
The researchers say the app will be able to detect an ear infection with the same, perhaps even more, accuracy as a doctor.
The app will play chirping sounds, which are channeled through the paper taped to the phone. The sound waves bounce from the ear back to the phone and interact with the chirping sounds from the phone. The noise is picked up by the microphone, and is then analyzed within the app. The app examines the fluctuations in sound, and proceeds to predict the probability of fluid present.
Although accurate ear infection tests already exist, they are done at a doctor’s office and are conducted with medical equipment. This app aims to create an accessible and inexpensive test that could challenge the accuracy of traditional tests.
The app has been tested on children between 18 months and 17 years at Seattle Children’s Hospital. In the initial tests, the app was able to determine if someone had ear fluid with 85 percent accuracy.
The developers hope to have the app cleared by the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the year. They are also looking to partner with doctors in developing nations to bring the app to more countries.
Image credit: University of Washington