(Inside Science TV) – Whatever you do with your smartphone, chances are at some point you are walking around with it. According to scientists, your walk and the way you move say a lot about your health.
“People with chronic illness, or people that are older, don’t move like young, vigorous, healthy people do," said Bruce Schatz, an information scientist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Now, researchers have designed an app that turns your smartphone into a useful medical device. Patients who suffer from chronic disease could use the app as a daily health monitor.
“It’s measuring walking pattern using carried phones," said Schatz.
The new app, called Move Sense, uses a smartphone's accelerometer motion sensors to measure a person's gait, or walking pattern, which can tell doctors about a patient's heart and lung health status.
For example, a person with a heart and lung disease like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), has a unique walking pattern.
“They stop and start, they shuffle, they rest in between steps, they move from side to side, they sit a lot," said Schatz.
The app alerts the user or doctor if their walking pattern shows a significant change, which could be a sign of something more serious.
The app's developers hope to start human trials with several thousand volunteers within the next year and hope to have the app available to the general public shortly after.