Heart attacks are easily one of the most terrifying medical emergencies out there. Though not always lethal, that can change in an instant if rapid medical attention is not sought out – and if you happen to suffer from cardiac arrest while you're alone in your home, it may be somewhat challenging (if not impossible) to grab a phone and call 911.
According to a report from the University of Washington, artificial intelligence could help to solve this dilemma and prevent a few heart attack-related deaths. Researchers from the University have created a "skill" for Google Home and Alexa smart speakers (or in-device assistants) that can detect the sounds one might make during cardiac arrest.
For example, if the skill hears "gasping" and "agonal breathing," it will automatically call emergency services for assistance. Apparently, the skill has proven to be quite effective in initial tests.
...if the skill hears "gasping" and "agonal breathing," it will automatically call emergency services for assistance.
After being trained to recognize these sounds using data captured from real 911 calls, the skill's AI has been able to detect agonal breathing events with 97 percent accuracy. Impressively, it can detect these events from "up to" 20 feet away.
It remains to be seen how effective this skill will be in real-world scenarios, but we're looking forward to finding out over time. You can read the full research report (written by Justin Chan, Thomas Rea, Shyamnath Gollakota, and Jacob E. Sunshine) over at Nature's npj Digital Medicine journal.