Yuka Kutsumi is a researcher at Suntory Group, a major Japanese F&B company, and has built a deep learning model that recognizes intestinal peristaltic sounds (bowel sounds) collected by microphones built into smartphones. The smartphone app "GutNote" developed based on this model was released in February 2023.
Bowel sounds are recognized as one of the indicators of intestinal condition, traditionally assessed by experienced physicians using a stethoscope. Capitalizing on this, GutNote measures and analyzes bowel sounds using only a smartphone, aiming to improve gut health more effectively. This app lowers the barrier for individuals to initiate healthy practices and enhances the continuity of such behaviors, focusing on making gut health management more accessible and sustained.
Kutsumi majored in biology at Kalamazoo College in the United States before earning her Master's degrees from the Grand Valley State University's MSc in Computer Information Systems and Cornell University's Life Sciences graduate program. She then joined Suntory in July 2017 and developed this technology by leveraging her knowledge as a researcher with expertise in biochemistry and bioinformatics and her experience as a data scientist who has worked with deep learning.
In the development of the app, approximately 70 hours of bowel sound data were screened and annotated, leading to the creation of a bowel sound recognition model. A clinical trial involving 100 patients was conducted to validate this. GutNote not only analyzes bowel sounds but also allows users to input daily health data such as bowel movements, sleep, and body temperature. By doing so, it provides personalized suggestions for improving dietary and exercise habits based on this comprehensive health profile.
Kutsumi's efforts have made it possible to acquire biosignals in the form of sound, which has been difficult to obtain in the past, with a smartphone, a device that most people already own. In addition, the long-term collection of bowel sound data has the potential to give rise to new research possibilities that stem from the data and establish an ecosystem that provides even more value to users.
Kutsumi is currently working on another project at Suntory's laboratory in London, UK. "I will continue to push forward with my research while focusing on addressing the global challenges of digital health," says Kutsumi, who is looking to expand the scope of her work by exploring new perspectives and environments.