GlaxoSmithKline inked a deal with Propeller Health, which developed a mobile respiratory healthcare management platform, to use its sensor in clinical studies evaluating GSK’s Ellipta inhaler—the first R&D agreement between the two companies.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Propeller Health sensor is a small device that is attached to inhalers; when the inhaler is used, the sensor records the time and location. The company will develop a custom sensor to use in studies evaluating the Ellipta inhaler in treating respiratory diseases. Data collected by the sensor will be transmitted to a central data system that can be accessed by GSK researchers.

GSK’s director of external communications, Mary Rhyne, said the deal was a “natural extension” for the drugmaker. Propeller Health in July received FDA approval to market its platform with GSK’s Advair Diskus dry powder inhaler, which is used to treat asthma and COPD.

“More broadly, GSK is proactively applying state-of-the-art digital technologies, channels and platforms to improve the patient’s clinical trial experience, to better understand all aspects of patient responses to medicines, to improve the efficiency of trials and to enhance patient outcomes,” she added.

Michelle Crouthamel, project manager for digital trials at GlaxoSmithKline, told attendees at a mobile health conference in September that mobile sensors and digital devices are a crucial part of the company’s aim to reduce the costs of bringing drugs to market.

Rhyne said the types of data the sensor will collect have not yet been determined, “though it would be natural to seek data on date and time of each use of the inhaled medicine so that we could assess any impact on symptoms and disease.”

GSK is not the first drugmaker to enlist mobile technology to better understand patient behavior in clinical trials. Biogen funded a study to evaluate the walking activity in 200 patients with multiple sclerosis using the Fitbit digital tracker in July 2014.