There is a great article in the telegraph talking about a possible app in the works that will allow for the diagnosis of respiratory disease based on a simple cough.  I thought this was a joke until I read the bottom of the article.  The firm researching this diagnosing methodology has some serious backing in the form of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the tune of $100,000.  The foundation is backing this possible method of diagnosing due to the incidence of pneumonia in developing countries.

The Telegraph:

Software being developed by American and Australian scientists will hopefully allow patients simply to cough into their phone, and it will tell them whether they have cold, flu, pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.

Whether a cough is dry or wet, or “productive” or “non-productive” (referring to the presence of mucus on the lungs), can give a doctor information about what is causing that cough, for example whether it is caused by a bacterial or a viral infection……….

The software is currently run on a computer, but it is anticipated that it could be rewritten as a smartphone application.

If they are able to get this algorithm to actually work, this could have some serious implications beyond helping those in developing countries.  This could be great for public health as a whole here in the US, especially since a cough is one of the most common presenting symptoms.  The only problem is, most coughs are caused by viral respiratory tract infections, so it would be crucial for this software to be able to distinguish between a bacterial and viral infection.  How in the world would software be able to do this based solely on acoustics? They explain a little of this in the article, but it should be fun to find out.  We’ll definitely be following this story in the future.