For sustainable society


Identifying Pneumonia using AI Recognition!

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has made rapid progress in recent years. A research team at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland has developed a “Smart Stethoscope” which even non-specialists can use to accurately diagnose lung disease.

Worldwide, approximately one million children every year die from acute lower respiratory infections, and in developing countries less than 5% of people are able to access X-ray imaging due to location or economic issues. Bearing in mind the issue of acute lower respiratory infections, the World Health Organization recommends administering antibiotics if a patient exhibits symptoms such as shortness of breath or coughing, but in fact, half of these medications are unnecessary, causing higher community cost burden and increased bacterial drug resistance.

This situation led to the development of the “Smart Stethoscope.” It is problematic for non-specialists to position a stethoscope in the correct location, but the Smart Stethoscope achieves consistent sensitivity over a wide area. This high-performance device can receive strong signals even if the chest piece (the part of the stethoscope which touches the body surface to collect sounds) is not in the correct location. In addition, by creating an algorithm which can remove noise while preserving the unpredictable and abnormal signal patterns created by pneumonia, the Smart Stethoscope can cope with noise commonly experienced in developing-country clinics. In addition, the algorithm also removes bodily noises such as the heartbeat which can impede diagnosis.

In order to create a smart stethoscope, the research team also developed an app which can identify normal and abnormal breathing patterns, thus automatically screening for pneumonia symptoms. This app can be used even without internet access; being able to be used anywhere is one of its key features.

The Smart Stethoscope is currently undergoing field testing at clinics in Peru, Bangladesh, etc., and if successful, a low-priced commercial version is anticipated. Saving many children’s lives in developing countries with a smart stethoscope. This can be considered a sustainable initiative which promotes reaching the target in UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #3, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”