Asthma is a very common inflammatory condition that apparently affects around 300 million people around the world at one time. The attacks can also pretty annoying if you have it, especially the ones that require a trip to the hospital for further investigation. Effective treatments for asthma can sometimes be found by studying when and where the attack took place, which is why epidemiologist and medical anthropologist David Van Sickle has come up with a GPS add-on for inhalers.
David and his company Asthmapolis created Spiroscout so doctors and patients would be able to track their asthma attacks much more effectively. When you have an attack and reach for your inhaler, the GPS device will track the time and location of the attack; it can then either store or send the data to a remote server. It's hoped that then a patient or doctor will be able to see patterns in when an attack happens, and what caused it--be it pollen or a chemical substance.
The device sits on top of the medication canister for your inhaler, and its battery can be recharged using a wall-socket or USB power source. And since it's USB powered, you can offload the data it collects onto your computer. Asthmapolis also wants people to submit their data to the Asthmapolis Website so the company can see if there are any interesting correlations between eveyone's attacks.
After two trial sessions, the tool has not only proved its worth but apparently also got experts questioning particular theories about asthma. It's cool to think such a simple device could potentially help or save so many people's lives (around 250,000 people died of asthma in 2009 alone). Spiroscout won't be commercially available until this fall, but Asthmapolis asks sufferers to get in touch if they would like to be on a waiting list.
Would you try out a Spiroscout on top of your inhaler? Let your opinions be known in the comments!
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