Tell me where it hurts: MIT app diagnoses car issues by listening, analyzing sounds

car diagnostics mit app 1 0
MIT News
In the next couple years, you may be able to diagnose your car’s ailments with little more than a smartphone app, thanks to research from engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The system works by turning a phone’s microphone and accelerometers into a kind of automotive stethoscope that analyzes the sounds and vibrations made by a car to detect problems, even before the vehicle shows any obvious symptoms.

The MIT app has the potential to save the average driver $125 per year, according to Joshua Siegel, one of the research scientists behind a recent paper describing the app. That savings could be as much as $600 per year for trucks. Gas mileage is could possibly increase by a few percentage points for all vehicles.

“Right now, we’re able to diagnose several common engine and suspension problems,” Siegel told Digital Trends. “Our engine diagnoses include identifying misfires and optimally timing filter changes, while our suspension diagnostics include identifying wheel imbalances and variations in tread depth and tire pressure.”

As with much of today’s emerging tech, Siegel and his team owe a lot to recent advancements in AI algorithms and cloud computation. Thanks to machine learning, the more data the app is able to collect, the more its performance improves.

“For each diagnostic or prognostic, we collect data from the sensor or sensors best able to measure the physical manifestation of a defect, and then train models to look for certain characteristic “fingerprints” of each fault type,” Siegel explained.

To analyze air filters, the app listens to how the car “breathes” to detect how clogged the airflow is. For misfires, it listens for what Siegel called the “characteristic popping sound” that tends to scare the wits out of people in the passenger seat. By measuring vibrations, the app can pick up on wheel imbalances.

“We’re able to do this because the sensors in your phone — the same microphone you use to talk, and the same accelerometer your phone uses to rotate the screen when you switch from portrait to landscape — are far more sensitive to small changes than people are,” Siegel said.

The MIT team is currently testing the app internally with promising results, Siegel said. Moving forward, the team will train the app on various vehicle types to add to their data, with the hope that the app will work on any type of consumer vehicle.

A paper detailing the research will be published in the November issue of the journal Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence.

Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.
Social Media

GIF almost anywhere with Giphy’s new keyboard and sticker maker

We all love GIFs, but not every app supports them. Fortunately, the new Giphy' keyboard brings GIFs to any iOS app that supports multimedia. The update also comes with a new tool for creating animated stickers.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.

These are the 5 best free antivirus apps to protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as choosing from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…