One of the most prominent challenges that developing countries face is respiratory diseases. For example, COPD is a leading cause of death in developing countries, contributing to 2.7 million deaths annually. Furthermore, this challenge is accentuated by the lack of government doctors, which the WHO currently estimates to be at a ratio of 10,000:1 in India, 10 times greater than what is recommended. Our solution is Spira, a low-cost, fast, and effective biomedical device that provides screening for respiratory diseases. We believe that with widespread dissemination and implementation of Spira, doctors’ jobs in developing countries could be greatly expedited. Spira’s user experience is divided into 3 components: symptom and circumstance questions, auscultation, and screening results. First, the user is prompted to answer 9 questions regarding their symptoms and circumstances. To ensure the relevance and clarity of these questions, we consulted with Dr. Vincent Fan, a pulmonary professor at the University of Washington. The next step is that of auscultation using an onboard, 3D printed, digital stethoscope and a novel siamese neural network. Finally, Spira considers the results from both the symptom and circumstance questions and the auscultation test using a custom boosting algorithm to predict and explain 1 of 6 respiratory diseases. To ensure the accessibility of Spira, it is able to run without internet access, supports over 100 languages, and is available at a one-time price of $15. To conclude, we are eagerly looking forward to Spira touching the lives of millions across the globe.
What inspired you (or your team)?
When I was 9 years old, I first visited India, where I came across a different world – one in which poverty and injustice are extremely prominent features of daily life. Furthermore, upon arrival, I immediately noticed the horrible air quality and severe pollution. In doing research, I was astounded to find that the intersection of these two dilemmas presents one of the world’s biggest medical challenges: combatting respiratory diseases in impoverished areas. For example, the most negatively affected population by respiratory diseases are the approximately 65 million people living in slums in India alone. Having seen the dire impact of respiratory diseases first hand in India, I felt inspired to take action and utilize the power of technology to combat the problem head-on. I joined forces with Nikolas Ioannou, a colleague and software developer, to create Spira. Both incredibly passionate about the problem, we have been developing Spira for the last several months. While we understand that we have taken on a huge challenge, we believe that with the support of an organization like Young Innovators to Watch, Spira will blossom into a product that could empower millions across the globe to greatly increase their quality of life.