It’s a little friend asthmatics know all too well: the faithful, tiny, inhaler. Sometimes quite literally a life saver, most asthma sufferers have one and go through three or four a year. Now, in addition to allowing them to breathe, a scientist wants to use them to figure out why we get asthma in the first place.

How? With GPS units on inhalers!

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The inhalers, which would also have a WiFi unit, would record location and time of use every time they were used, and send the information to a central server.

For the patient, it helps them and their doctor figure out what the patient might be doing to aggravate their asthma, or certain times and locations that might trigger an attack.

For the epidemiologists, it gives them a more detailed look at what parts of the country have the most asthma attacks, at what times, and in what conditions. Basically, they could get a better handle on what triggers attacks and how to fight it off.

There’s a lot of potential here to get insight into what triggers asthma and why. Of course, you still have to convince the people buying inhalers to shell out for what amounts to a bottle of steroids with an antenna on it, but one step at a time.