Today in "Amazon's reasons to listen to everything that's going on inside your household" news, its being reported that products like the Amazon Echo could one day be used to detect signs of cardiac arrest, according to Bloomberg.
The first signs of cardiac arrest are usually irregular gasps of breath, and researchers at the University of Washington have developed an AI powered tool that could be used on smart speakers to detect such noises. From there, the smart speaker could alert emergency services.
All it has to do is eavesdrop on everything going in your house, all the time.
Dr Jacob Sunshine, assistant professor of anaesthesiology and pain medicine said: "This kind of breathing happens when a patient experiences really low oxygen levels."
He continued: "It's sort of a guttural gasping noise, and its uniqueness makes it a good audio biomarker to use to identify if someone is experiencing a cardiac arrest."
The concept was put to the test using recordings of people making cardiac-event-related breathing noises that were captured by bystanders in emergency calls received by Seattle's Emergency Medical Services.
2.5 second audio clips were captured between 2009 and 2017, from 162 calls on numerous smart phone devices, which helped contribute to a database of over 7,300 noises used to draw upon. The sounds were played back from different distances, amidst different background noises, to ensure the tool works in everyday situations. The test included 83 hours of normal sleeping noises, as well, to act as negative data to avoid confusion with real cardiac events.
The system could detect noises related to cardiac events with 97% accuracy when the smartphone was placed up to 6 meters from a speaker generating the sound.
Shyam Gollakota, associate professor at the University of Washington said:
"A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of. We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. This could run locally on the processors contained in the Alexa. It's running in real time, so you don't need to store anything or send anything to the cloud."
Especially any of those household conversations that we're sure Alexa isn't just "jotting down" in the process...