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Smart Speakers Could One Day Save Your Life

A team at University of Washington has converted a smart speaker into a tool that detects cardiac arrest.

Smart Speaker / Image: Digital Trends
Smart Speaker / Image: Digital Trends

We’ve all been at a friend's house with a smart speaker and uncomfortably watched them shout “Alexa, Alexa, ALEXA!” in an effort to change the song or dim the lights. According to a recent Digital Trends article and a research project from the University of Washington, these interactive speakers could soon save your life. The team at UW took advantage of the speakers’ ability to listen and placed them in the bedrooms of people at risk or cardiac arrest, which is one of the most common settings for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

The tool is essentially an app that listens for the signature sounds of cardiac arrest, abnormal or agonal breathing, and alerts a caregiver or emergency medical service in the event of one. Since the tool is an algorithm that detects audio, there is no need for additional speaker hardware for the device to carry out the tasks. The solution still has a ways to go before it’s mainstream, but early results are promising. The UW tool can detect agonal breathing with 97% accuracy from a distance of 20 feet.

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