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Tracking Lung Function on Any Phone

Lung impairments account for roughly 10% of global deaths. The severity of these diseases is usually measured and managed using spirometers, devices that measure patient lung function. Home spirometry is gaining acceptance in the medical community due to its ability to detect pulmonary exacerbations and improve outcomes of chronic lung ailments. However, cost and usability are significant barriers to its widespread adoption. In order to make spirometry more accessible, we have developed a smartphone app, SpiroSmart, that allows measurement of common lung function measures (FEV1, FVC, PEF, and FEV1%) using the phone's microphone. The app uploads the microphone data to a server and the results are sent back to the smartphone app. To date, more than 4000 patients have used SpiroSmart and it is currently engaged in ongoing clinical testing in multiple places in the USA, India, and Bangladesh. However, individuals in low- or middle-income countries do not typically have access to the latest smartphones. Recently we have developed a call-in service to allow patients to perform spirometry on any phone —using the standard telephony voice channel to transmit the sound of the spirometry effort. The server computes the lung function measures and the patients receive a response back on their phones via a text message. 

We compared the performance of the smartphone app and call-in service and our results show that there is no significant difference between the two systems. With a mean error of less than 10%, both SpiroSmart and SpiroCall are comparable to clinical spirometers. This work paves the way for a truly global deployment of home spirometry and increased access to lung function tracking.

Smartphone app

Smartphone Application

Call-in Service



2016 CHI Paper [pdf]

2016 Press Release Video [youtube]

2012 UbiComp Paper [pdf]