Researchers use smart speakers to detect heart attack

Alexa could soon detect you going into cardiac arrest just by listening to you the way you’re breathing.

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine are trying to teach smart speakers what cardiac arrest sounds like in someone’s breathing patterns.

"It's a very distinct, disordered, gusheral breathing sound,” said PHD student Justin Chan during a Skype call with the News Station Wednesday.

Chan along with Dr. Jacob Sunshine and other researchers on the team said they’ve gotten the technology’s success rate to about 97%; even picking up the issues from about 6 meters away with background noise.

Their hope is that if the speakers can identify trouble in a person’s breathing while they’re sleeping or otherwise incapacitated, then the smart assistant could call 911 and emergency responders could start CPR significantly faster; thus increasing the patient’s chance for survival.

"She's learning to basically train a system that could identify the unique sound signature that's associated with these life threatening events,” said Dr. Sunshine.

Sunshine said if the team can continue to increase the success rate, then the technology could save lives in homes or even be taught to detect other audible medical emergencies.

Don’t hold your breath just yet though. The team said they’re still testing and working to lower instances of false positives; avoid incorrect calls to 911 from false detections.

The move is no surprise to Orlando tech experts.

Tom Jelneck from On Target Marketing said health monitoring is quickly becoming a main focus of smart technology developers.

"Think about it: we have these things, iPhones, whatever strapped to our wrists, sitting in our living rooms, following us around everywhere, listening to everything we say,” said Jelneck, "it only makes sense that some of these devices can start to pick up distress signs."