An APP to Diagnose Ear Infection

ENT problems sound trivial but are very painful in reality and can be life-threatening if ignored. I am a living example of these problems. I suffered a lot due to Tonsillitis and Ear Infection in the last 6 months. I became very sensitive to sounds and noises heard in my environment and experienced hell when I traveled outside due to the vehicular honking and other inevitable noise pollution. Due to lack of knowledge on these issues, I ignored the problem for a long time before I consulted an ENT Specialist. After due medication, I am doing fine but let us now focus on these Ear infections which are a big nuisance to anyone.

The symptoms of ear infections can never be clear unless we do thorough research or have them diagnosed by Specialists in ENT ailments. Researchers from the University of Washington came up with a mobile app that can assist in diagnoses by detecting fluid behind the eardrum using just a cone of paper and your phone. Ear infections are more common in children than in adults as they are prone to hygiene-related negligence and are too small to take care of themselves by all means. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, ear infections are among the most common reasons for a visit to the family doctor with a child. Any device that can tell the parents of a child about his or her suffering with less intrusion and pain is a big boon. It is a great relief and less time-consuming.

The unusually simple solution is built around a smartphone app and a cone of paper. A cone of regular, everyday paper and that sounds really weird. Isn’t it? The app uses the phone’s speaker and microphone to send and receive an audio signal into the ear canal via the paper cone. The cone – which can be cut and folded easily by a parent or doctor – is used to isolate and direct the signal in and out of the ear.

The setup works a little like a bat’s echolocation system, sending a 150-millisecond chirping sound into the ear, which is then picked up by the phone’s microphone as it bounces back. Obstructions in the ear influence the returned signal and the app makes a decision on the likely presence of fluid behind the eardrum based on variations in the returned sound waves. The system requires no formal training, yet the researchers found its accuracy was on par with the professional acoustic reflectometry system it was being testing against.

The software was already tested successfully across multiple smartphone platforms and numerous types of paper for the cones with consistent results across the board. The researchers are planning to monetize the technology via a spinout company called Edus Health.

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