Smart Inhalers: Opening Airways and Opportunities

When we look out the window, often times it’s to answer one of the day’s first questions. Is it flip flop weather or is it sweater weather? Thanks to IBM and big data the question may expand for asthmatics to “What kind of inhaler do I need today?”

That’s a question the data company is looking to help solve by comparing weather data to usage data that is stored in what are called ‘Smart Inhalers.’ According to Fast Company, this will hopefully help patients take back their lives.

“The ultimate goal for the partnership is to demarcate the patients that are at higher risk of an asthma attack, and make recommendations that might help. These might include nudging a patient to notify their physician to potentially increase the medication amount, or take an emergency inhaler once they leave the house if there's a lot of pollen in the air.”

Smart Inhalers are pretty remarkable devices on their own. They allow for users, doctors and researchers to learn more about the disease through “objective and accurate medication monitoring and reminders.” Each inhaler connects via bluetooth to both mobile devices and an in home hub in order to translate collected data to a cloud based data collection system. The system allows users to track medication use and receive medication reminders. The data that is then collected is easily manipulated via web connected devices and touchscreen interfaces. It's a SaaS based system that doesn't work that much differently from our own. It just has a different application.

That information is going to be fed through Watson’s cloud-based app for analysis. Watson is a technology platform that practices machine learning in order to find key insights in expansive and disorganized data. According to IBM, 80% of all data today is unstructured including things like the news, research reports, social media posts and enterprise system data. You can learn more about Watson and how it (or is it a he?) processes information and answers questions on the organization’s website and in the video below.

There’s a long way to go before the hoped for solutions are ready, but this is just another example of technology and temperature coming together to address an ongoing problem. These results could change the lives of asthmatics everywhere. Those are results that are sure to be a breath of fresh air.