Asthma, COPD… These chronic respiratory problems could one day be detected thanks to Wi-Fi waves, reports a new study.

Could Wi-Fi, which we use to use the Internet, be used for medical purposes? Yes, according to American researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Their study published in the journal IEEE Access on December 15 focuses on “wi-fi based respiratory monitoring schemes”.

Detect different breathing rhythms

To understand the study, let’s go back to the basics. Wi-Fi emits waves that move. When they encounter obstacles such as human bodies, they are altered. The researchers therefore came up with the idea ofstudy these waves when they pass through organisms and see if it was possible to detect subtle changes in the body of a person with breathing difficulties.

For their experiment, the scientists used a mannequin to simulate different breaths and placed it in what they call an anechoic chamber, a room that absorbs radio waves. They also installed a commercial Wi-Fi router and receiver.

The dummy imitated a variety of breathing patterns associated with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and abnormally slow and rapid breathing rates.

During this time, radio wave disturbances were recorded, with Datas transmitted approximately 10 times per second. Once these have been collected, the authors had to understand what disturbances waves corresponded to breathing difficulties simulated by the dummy. To help them sort, they used a specific algorithm. This technology has been shown to be between 98.69% and 99.54% effective in correctly classifying different breathing patterns and rates. A real success according to the researchers, for whom “This study discusses ideas for future expansion of this technology”.

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