Smart speakers can pick up one day if someone has a cardiac arrest

Smart speakers can pick up one day if someone has a cardiac arrest and calls emergency services, research suggests.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood through the body, often causing a sufferer a & # 39; throat sound, panting sound & # 39; produces.

Researchers have developed a new tool for devices such as an Amazon Alexa that detects this disturbed breathing and contacts emergency services.

When testing for real phone calls, the device picked up cardiac arrests 97% of the time, even if the gasping noise was 20 ft (6 m) away from the receiver.

The researchers at the University of Washington hope the & # 39; immersive & # 39; technology is added one day to smart speakers to catch & # 39; more patients on time & # 39 ;.

Smart speakers can pick up one day if someone has a cardiac arrest

Smart speakers can pick up one day if someone has a cardiac arrest

Study author Dr. Shyam Gollakota said: “Many people have smart speakers at home and these devices have great options that we can use.

& # 39; We provide a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal respiratory event. & # 39;

He added that it warns everyone in the neighborhood about CPR. However, the scientists have not explained how this happens.

& # 39; And if there is no response, the device can automatically call 911 & # 39 ;, Dr. Gollakota added. The tool can filter background noise.

The research was led by Justin Chan, a PhD student in the IT and Engineering Department.

Nearly 500,000 Americans die of cardiac arrest every year, the researchers wrote in the journal Npj Digital Medicine.

And the condition kills 100,000 Britons a year, according to Arrhythmia Alliance.

Study author Dr. Jacob Sunshine, assistant professor of anesthesiology and pain medication, said: “Cardiac arrest is a common way for people to die and right now many of them can be ignorant.

& # 39; Part of what makes this technology so attractive is that it can help us catch more patients in time so that they can be treated. & # 39;

Immediate resuscitation can double or even triple a patient's chance of survival, but it depends on a spectator willing to help.

British research suggests that almost a third of adults (30 percent) would not perform CPR if someone had a heart attack.

This would be largely due to bystanders who are not confident that they can perform CPR correctly.

In the US, almost 383,000 cardiac arrests take place outside the hospital every year, 88 of which per person take place at home, according to the American Heart Association statistics.

The bedroom is one of the most likely places for cardiac arrest, with many patients alone or with their partners sleeping next to them, the researchers claim.

Smart speakers might therefore be well placed to accommodate the panting sounds that a patient makes, known as agonal breathing.

Agonal breathing occurs in about half of people with cardiac arrest, according to emergency service data.

& # 39; This kind of breathing happens when a patient experiences really low oxygen levels & # 39 ;, said Dr. Sunshine.

& # 39; It is a kind of throat sound and there is a unique sound that makes it a good audio marker to recognize if someone has a cardiac arrest. & # 39;

To test the concept, the researchers collected audio clips of agonal breathing made during 162 calls to Seattle Emergency Medical Services between 2009 and 2017.

Bystanders picked up the sounds by bringing telephones to the mouths of patients, who were often unconscious.


Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body, which is usually due to a problem with electrical signals in the organ.

Because of this, the brain is starved by oxygen, so that patients do not breathe and lose consciousness.

In the UK, more than 30,000 cardiac arrests take place outside the hospital for a year, compared to more than 356,000 in the US.

Cardiac arrest is different from heart attacks, the latter occurring when blood flow to the heart muscle is interrupted by a clot in one of the coronary arteries.

Common causes are heart attacks, heart conditions and heart muscle inflammation.

Drug overdose and losing a large amount of blood can also be to blame.

Giving an electric shock through the chest wall through a defibrillator can restart the heart.

In the meantime, CPR can circulate the oxygen around the body.

The researchers recorded the recordings on various smart devices, ranging from an Amazon Alexa to an iPhone 5s and a Samsung Galaxy S4.

They then used various device learning techniques to improve the dataset to 7,316 audio clips.

& # 39; We played these examples at different distances to simulate what it would sound like if the patient were in different places in the bedroom & # 39 ;, Chan said.

& # 39; We have also added various annoying sounds, such as cats and dogs, car & # 39; s horns, air conditioning, things you would normally hear at home. & # 39;

For the control data, the researchers collected 83 hours of audio from sleep studies, which were composed of sounds such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

The results showed that the device was agonally breathing 97% of the time the device was placed at a distance of 6 m from a speaker that generated the sound.

The team then tested the technology to ensure that it did not accidentally classify different types of breathing, such as snoring, as agonal.

& # 39; We don't want to alert emergency services or loved ones unnecessarily, so it's important to reduce our false positives & # 39 ;, Chan said.

The tool wrongly categorized a sound as agonal breathing only 0.14 percent of the time.

The false positive figure was about 0.22 percent when testing audio clips that volunteers recorded while sleeping in their own homes.

The researchers hope that the smart speaker will one day be available as an app or & # 39; automatically & # 39; will be running on devices while we sleep.

& # 39; This can be done locally on the processors in the Alexa, & # 39; said Dr. Gollakota.

& # 39; It runs in real time, so you don't have to save anything or send anything to the cloud. & # 39;

However, the researchers emphasize that more research is needed to improve the accuracy of the tool.

& # 39; At present, this is good evidence of the use of 911 calls in the Seattle metropolitan area & # 39 ;, said Dr. Gollakota.

& # 39; But we need access to more 911 cardiac arrest calls, so that we can further improve the accuracy of the algorithm and ensure that it generalizes over a larger population. & # 39;

The researchers are planning to commercialize this technology someday via Sound Life Sciences, a spin-out from the University of Washington.

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