Engineers and doctors from the University of Washington invented the first app that can sound out ear infection in children with the use of a piece of paper, folded into a funnel and attached onto a smartphone. The app works by playing birdlike chirps and the phone’s microphone will then recognize sound waves bouncing off the eardrum. It analyzes the echo from a healthy eardrum but if the reflected sound is altered, it means pus or uninfected fluid is present. It also sends a text message if fluid is present in the ear or any information that can be used for medical analysis.

Researchers tested the system using a smartphone on 98 children between the ages of 18 months and 17 years. Half of the children’s ear had tubes implanted for the doctors to know exactly how much fluid is present and to compare its results with the app. It was found out that the smartphone approach is as good as or can also be better than the hearing testing devices. The university has already filed for patent and is still seeking for approval from the Food and Drugs Administration to sell the app.