May 17, 2014 – Our smartphones are quickly turning into medical devices through applications that monitor our wellness. The latest is GaitTrack, developed by University of Illinois. It measures how you walk to assess your cardiopulmonary, muscle and neurological health.
When we think of vital signs we include temperature, blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation. But it turns out that our walking gait says a lot about our health status. When we suffer from cardiopulmonary and lung diseases it affects our stride – both speed and length. So in six minutes of walking a user suffering from any of these chronic diseases can get an accurate assessment of his or her health status if someone or something watched how they walked.
That’s what GaitTrack does. It can predict lung function with 90% accuracy by analyzing six minute increments of a smartphone user who has the app installed. Users of the app who suffer from asthma, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can continuously self-monitor or share the data collected with a physician in real time. Instead of having to go to a clinic or hospital and be hooked up to specialized medical equipment they can carry on the business of each day while providing continuous data on their state of wellness.
How does it work? GaitTrack runs in the background on a smartphone carried by a user throughout the day. The app collects data in six minute increments tracking the user’s walking gait and analyzing it. When it detects changes in gait known to indicate a decline in the app user’s health it can report. Currently GaitTrack is being tested in clinical trials. It should be available for download from the University of Illinois in a few months.