In general, people who experience cardiac arrest suddenly stop responding and breathing. They can emit guttural gasps, a sign known as “agonizing breathing.” Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can double or triple the probability of a person’s survival, but that requires the presence of a spectator. But what if your Google Home, Amazon Alexa, or even your smartphone could help you in that situation?
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new tool to monitor people for cardiac arrests while they sleep, using these devices to detect the sound of agonizing breathing and ask for help.
“Many people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have incredible capabilities that we can take advantage of,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota, a professor at the University of Washington.
“We imagine a contactless system that works by continually and passively monitoring the room for an agonizing breathing event, and alerting nearby people to provide CPR. And then, if there is no response, the device can automatically call the emergency.”
Using the recordings of emergency calls and others of people sleeping normally (with their snoring, grunts and others), the team used machine learning to create a tool that could detect agonized breathing 97% of the time when the smart device was placed at a distance of up to 6 meters.
The team anticipates that this algorithm could work as an application or a skill for Alexa that runs passively on a smart speaker or smartphone while people sleep.
“It could run locally on the processors contained in Alexa in real time, so it is not necessary to store anything or send anything to the cloud,” said Gollakota.