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The app predicts a COPD attack using voice analysis

by News Room
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Pulmonologist and MUMC+ researcher Sami Simons, together with his team and patients, is developing an application that can predict a COPD attack. Simons believes that a change in voice predicts a COPD attack. He tries to demonstrate this in the SPEAK study. He will tell more about this at the ICT&Health World Conference in Maastricht from 14 to 16. May. SPEAK is short for Speaking up to detect lung attacks.

During the ICT&Health World Conference, Sami Simons will give two presentations. In the first session, he talks about innovations at MUMC+ and SPEAK and DACIL studies. In the second session, he gives a glimpse of the “living room of the future” using a prototype app.

“The pulmonologist who trained me could often hear on the phone if someone had a COPD lung attack. He said ten years ago that we should do research on this. However, the technology of sound research was not yet well developed. The apps were also still new, and not everyone had a smartphone. It’s really changed a lot in the last ten years, so now’s an opportunity to do something about it,” says Simons.

Treatment methods for lung attacks

Simons’ research focuses on finding new and more targeted treatment methods for the treatment of lung attacks in COPD patients and includes both laboratory-based research and human studies. He works closely with researchers at Maastricht University’s NUTRIM research institute and supervises various doctoral students.

Dr. Simons has worked as a pulmonologist at MUMC+ since 2019. He specializes in guiding and treating people with COPD. He is also in charge of the lung function department. Simons is also the chairman of the COPD section of the Dutch Association of Physicians for Lung Diseases and Tuberculosis (NVALT) and a member of the European Respiratory Society (ERS).


COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the most common lung disease in the world. In the Netherlands, more than half a million people suffer from it. It affects people of all ages, although most of them are over 60 years old. The situation progresses randomly. People with COPD have various ailments, such as shortness of breath, cough or phlegm. Although people with COPD suffer from the disease every day, some days the patient feels better than others.

If a lung attack can be predicted by sound analysis, treatment advice can also be given in time. “With the application, we hope to reduce the variation in the daily burden of disease and prevent a lung attack, or at least put it aside. For this, the application analyzes the patient’s voice. This must be entered into the application every day. The patient is reminded of this with the app.” The SPEAK study is financed by the Lung Fund.

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