Hey Alexa, How’s My Heart?

Hey Alexa, How’s My Heart?  A picture of an Alexa sitting on a table.

Smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home may be able to detect when someone is having a heart attack and call for medical help, according to the latest research. Researchers at the University of Washington have shown that these devices can detect cardiac arrests and monitor babies’ breathing.  But what about tracking something even smaller, for example, individual heartbeats in a person sitting in front of a smart speaker?

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have developed a new tool for contactless monitoring of heart rhythm. The researchers tested a prototype smart speaker running artificial intelligence (AI) on 26 healthy adults and 24 adults hospitalized with arrhythmic cardiac conditions such as atrial fibrillation, flutter, and congestive heart failure. The researchers found that the smart speaker detected heartbeats that closely matched the beats detected by standard heartbeat monitors. Compared to standard heartbeat monitoring tools, the smart speaker showed promising results. In the next few years this new technology can be deployed commercially, researchers believe.

While it may sound like a scene from a sci-fi movie, artificial intelligence (AI) is being embraced in healthcare, and it is sure to play a vital role in the coming years. Move over, Captain Kirk. Artificial intelligence in the field of medicine grows increasingly popular, opening opportunities across all specialties.

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Wang A, Nguyen D, Sridhar AR, Gollakota S. Using smart speakers to contactlessly monitor heart rhythms. Communications Biology. 2021 Mar 9;4 (1):1-2.