Neural Networks for the Heart

Kardia Pro patient file screen shot 1 932x1243

Wired tells us AliveCor sells a device (for the low price of $100) that can provide information about heart attack risk. Keep in mind that the first sign that you have coronary heart disease is often death.

It analyzes your data using a deep learning algorithm. They are making an Apple Watch band version.

Of course, as with everything, run this through your hype filter (“prevent heart attacks with this one strange trick!!!!!”).

“They are clearly a leader in this space,” says Stanford geneticist Michael Snyder. The device’s ease of use could lead to more frequent testing, and increased likelihood of early detection of heart disease. He says the investments from Mayo Clinic and Omron suggest “they realize that it is the future.”

What’s new here isn’t the device, which AliveCor introduced a few years ago, but the neural network. The 40 people working for the company include former Google engineers who worked on Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Photos. “We built a four-layer-deep neural network,” says AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra, a former Google exec who came out of retirement to lead the company. “Four convolutional layers, two that are connected, 3,000 parameters, and it takes about seven minutes for us to train.”

Use the product for about a month, he says, and the technology builds your heart profile—a data-driven model that can detect anything amiss with your ticker. The neural network isn’t just looking at variances in heart rate, but in how the electrical system within your heart is firing. It’s smart enough to know if two people are sharing the same device, clouding the data pool in the process.