(PhysOrg.com) -- Asthma is a serious medical condition that can have life threatening consequences. That is why most asthmatics carry an inhaler. It is small enough to be nestled in a purse, or carried in a pocket, and most asthmatics will not leave home without it. That is why it is a perfect tool for collecting epidemiological data about asthma.
Researcher, Dr. David Van Sickle, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is hoping to collect that data with a GPS- and WiFi-enabled inhaler. This inhaler, which has been developed for Asthmapolis and dubbed Spiroscout, takes readings every time that it is puffed by a user. Those readings include both a time of use, and the location in which it was used. That data is then sent to a central computer for analysis.
This has two major benefits for asthma sufferers. The first is that is allows a patient, with the assistance of a physician to analyze their inhaler use. This process can reveal patterns in inhaler use and indicate adjustments that are needed in the patients medication schedule.
The second benefit is in the accumulated data that will be collected. The information obtained through this program could provide valuable insights for epidemiologists, who will be able to study data from an entire group of asthma sufferers, without relying on self-recorded logs. The data may also lead to a better understanding of air quality in an area.
Dr. Van Sickle's device is not the first GPS enabled inhaler on the market. In 2009 SiliconSky GPS developed the first iteration of the technology for Asthmapolis, but that device had a chunky box attached to the back. Dr. Van Sickle's device has the GPS built into the cap, making the device slimmer and easy to carry.
Explore further: UW-Madison researcher's 'smart' inhaler pinpoints where and when attacks occur