An app that can measure fitness at home by hospital out-patients is being shared for free by its Malmö University developer. Such technology could be vital in reducing the number of appointments high risk groups must attend.

Timed Walk has been developed by the researcher Dario Salvi at the University’s research centre, Internet of Things and People (IOTAP). The app has now become of great interest during the corona pandemic.

“The user can download the app to their phone for free and then, with the help of the GPS, can measure how far they walk in a certain period of time,” says Salvi.

Even when this is over, there may still be a need for remote solutions and to be able to share information with your doctor.

Dario Salvi

It started when Salvi worked with technology development and mobile health at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Oxford. A cardiologist that treats a lung disease that causes the blood vessels in the lungs to become too narrow, asked him to develop an app.

“The six-minute walk is a standard test and is used in a number of medical conditions to measure fitness. The patient has to walk back and forth in a hospital corridor while medical staff measure how many metres they walk,” says Salvi.

Thanks to the app, the patient can now take the test as and when they choose, somewhere near their home instead of at a hospital. Salvi, who specialises in software engineering and hardware prototypes for healthcare, explained that the app was developed before the current corona pandemic.

“Now the hospitals want as few patients as possible. I had published my paper about the app we developed in Oxford, when people started calling from Canada, Australia, Ireland, USA, UK — from hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.”

Salvi decided to make a new, slightly simpler and completely free version of the app and release it via IOTAP. He also released the algorithm free for others to develop further. The app gathered interest from researchers at King’s College and Oxford in the UK, University of British Columbia, Canada, University of Pennsylvania, USA, and from pharmaceutical companies.

“The cardiologist has sent it to colleagues, and I know there is also interest in our regional hospital. Even when this is over, there may still be a need for remote solutions and to be able to share information with your doctor.”

Salvi and IOTAP are currently developing a platform for mobile-based health research, Mobistudy, which was originally started in Oxford. The platform will function as a test bed for various technologies that can be used in healthcare.

Text by: Magnus Jando