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Thanks to the iPhone, smartphones have flooded the globe. A side benefit of that domination are the rock-bottom prices on electronic sensors – the tech that lets a phone count your steps or taps on its screen.

A group of UAB researchers aims to harness these cheap sensors for a nobler mission than Candy Crush: saving the lives of some of the 15 million preterm babies born each year worldwide. Preterm birth – defined as a baby born before 37 weeks gestation – is the leading cause of death in children 5 and under. It was responsible for some 1 million deaths in 2013, according to the World Health Organization. And that number is rising, the WHO reports.

By Matt Windsor –