This project aims to determine if the volatile organic compounds of our breath can be used to diagnose fungal pneumonia, by developing an Electronic-Nose utilizing A.I. technology, while simultaneously transmitting patient data wirelessly
Type: Commercial, Social Impact, Education
When I was nine years old, I contracted pneumonia. I woke to a horrible headache, leg pains, a loss of appetite, and strangely I only wanted to lay down and sleep. Initially, I was misdiagnosed with a simple ear infection. Later after the illness had taken hold, we found out I had pneumonia. What's worst is the doctor didn't know what type, so I had to take three different types of antibiotics, and luckily on the last day when I was to be admitted to the hospital, my fever broke. Me having pneumonia had a profound effect on me. I couldn't understand "why" doctors could not pin point the type of pneumonia to provide better treatment options. This got me thinking I had watched a TedED video on dogs that could detect cancer through their high since of smell. Could I potentially create an E-Nose that could do the same with pneumonia?
In short, my project is about developing a diagnostic tool to aid doctors in disease detection. This is merely the framework for a network of E-Noses that can detect different diseases in the body and transmit that data wirelessly on a network similar to Azure IoT. This would mean a patient who needed to see a specialist like a pulmonologist but wasn't in the same geographical area could provide a breath sample halfway around the world and be diagnosed. I built a mechanical artificial lung so that I could get as close to a real-world scenario. I introduced chemicals that were proven in a study to have the metabolic signatures of fungal pneumonia. These chemicals were planted as essential oils. I then took a microcontroller with a 4-sensory array and used an open-source code to build my framework on Edge Impulse. Effectively my artificial lung breathes in the synthesized fungal pneumonia and breathes out to the E-Nose that confirms a fungal pneumonia diagnosis.
Wow. I learned so much. I had to learn to build mechanisms that didn't exist to make my lungs breathe. I had to learn woodworking to build a case to contain the mechanics of the lung and a cleanroom to protect me from the chemicals that synthesized fungal pneumonia. I had to read so many scientific journals and understand so many medical terms I had to look up. I learned how to do research and contact professionals that understood how to point me in the right direction. I learned how to ask for A LOT of help from so many people. I learned that every time I got a "No," I should just try another way. I even learned how to wire a microcontroller and build some code from various tutorials and mentor guidance. I learned to be patient and diligent.
Since I began this journey I had no idea the impact my project could have on so many people. More than anything, I think my project gives people hope. Many fellow students at my school are amazed by my design and have asked me to give a lecture on it. I have been asked by other professionals to give interviews and or lectures. I think this project makes the future bright and helps medical professionals to potentially examine A.I. as a serious diagnostic tool that can be utilized in the medical field. This experiment has shown me that my future is limitless, and I should always be persistent, well, at least persistent with insight.