AI system for contactless monitoring of heart rhythm


Аvera Allen, Deputy Editor In Chief

Date: 24.03.2021

Smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, have proven adept at monitoring certain health care issues at home. For example, researchers at the University of Washington have shown that these devices can detect cardiac arrests or monitor babies breathing.

UW researchers have developed a new skill for a smart speaker that for the first time monitors both regular and irregular heartbeats without physical contact. The system sends inaudible sounds from the speaker out into a room and, based on the way the sounds are reflected back to the speaker, it can identify and monitor individual heartbeats. Because the heartbeat is such a tiny motion on the chest surface, the team's system uses machine learning to help the smart speaker locate signals from both regular and irregular heartbeats.

When the researchers tested this system on healthy participants and hospitalized cardiac patients, the smart speaker detected heartbeats that closely matched the beats detected by standard heartbeat monitors. The team published these findings March 9 in Communications Biology.

"Regular heartbeats are easy enough to detect even if the signal is small, because you can look for a periodic pattern in the data," said co-senior author Shyam Gollakota, a UW associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. "But irregular heartbeats are really challenging because there is no such pattern. I wasn't sure that it would be possible to detect them, so I was pleasantly surprised that our algorithms could identify irregular heartbeats during tests with cardiac patients."

By Аvera Allen | Linkedin

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