A new application able to detect the presence of fluid behind a child’s ear drum, using just one sheet of paper and the microphone and the smartphone speaker, developed researchers at the University of Washington.
In order to “listen” to otitis, the application produces a series of gentle “tweets” in the ear through a small paper funnel. Depending on the way the “tweets” return, the application detects the probability of the presence of fluid with a detection accuracy of 85%; a precision similar to that shown by the methods used by experts to detect the presence of fluid in the ear including special tools. For the purpose of the application, the researchers “trained” in 53 children aged 18 months – 17 years, an algorithm that detects changes in the signal and records the ears based on the presence or absence of fluid.
The researchers presented their results on May 15 at Science Translational Medicine.
“Designing an accurate exam tool on something as common as a smartphone can be a game changer for parents as well as healthcare providers in areas with limited resources”,
says Siam Golakotta, associate professor at UW’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering.
“A key advantage of our technology is that it does not require extra hardware over a piece of paper and a software application that runs on smartphones.”
After diagnosis, infections can be treated by classical methods, while persistent fluid can be treated by a physician. A quick diagnosis at home could help parents to decide if their child should go to the doctor or not.