A group of engineers and doctors at the University of Washington has just developed an app that might save parents a lot of money in co-pays for taking their little ones to the doctor for frequently occurring ear infections.
The best part is, the app doesn’t require some sort of obscure smartphone attachment. Rather, parents just need a few simple household items – scissors, paper and tape – to fashion a rudimentary funnel to help the app “listen” for infection.
Here is how the app works, the Associated Press reported:
Aim the funnel at the ear canal to focus sound. An experimental app beams in birdlike chirps, at a specific frequency. The microphone detects sound waves bouncing off the eardrum.
The app analyzes that echo, a broad-spectrum vibration from a healthy eardrum. Pus or uninfected fluid alters the eardrum’s mobility and changes the reflected sound. The app sends a text saying whether it’s likely that middle-ear fluid is present — one piece of information, along with other symptoms, that might be used for diagnosis.
Researchers published their report on the app — called EarHealth — Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The app was tested two groups of children. Half were kids admitted to Seattle Children’s Hospital for an operation to remove chronic ear fluid buildup and half were getting medical procedures that did not involve their ears, Gizmodo reported. The app was able to detect patients' ear fluid with 85 percent accuracy — which is admittedly pretty good, noting that detecting middle ear fluid is rather difficult, researchers explain.