59p stethoscope on iPhone proves a hit
Monday 14 December 2009
The stethoscope, the 200-year-old accessory without which no doctor is complete, could soon be replaced by the humdrum mobile phone.
A computer scientist who wrote a program that turns an Apple iPhone into a stethoscope has made a major advance in medical technology and created a sensation among heart specialists. The application, called iStethoscope, was developed as a "bit of fun", and has become a runaway success after being downloaded millions of times by users across the world.
Cardiologists say the software has saved lives and brought specialist expertise within reach of patients in remote parts of the world. Heart sounds can be recorded and emailed to doctors anywhere for an expert opinion.
Peter Bentley, a researcher who developed the application in the computer science department at University College, London, said he was amazed by the response.
"The idea began as an experiment," he added. "I had a new, popular science book out last year and I wanted to see if I could tell people about the book using a free iPhone application that did something useful.
"It was intended as a fun toy but to my astonishment it was downloaded by several million people all over the world in the first six months. Then I started receiving emails, phone calls and visits from cardiologists all over the world. They said it worked better than commercially available digital stethoscopes. They were tremendously excited. One flew over from the US just to discuss it with me."
The cause of the doctors' excitement was that the audio quality from the iPhone was far superior to that from digital stethoscopes. Mobile phones are a huge market compared with digital stethoscopes, and economies of scale mean they are made with better hardware.
Responding to requests from specialists, Mr Bentley extended the application to allow heart sounds to be recorded, emailed and analysed. The application costs 59p to download, but cardiologists say it does a better job than equipment costing thousands of times as much.
Glenn Nordehn, a US cardiologist researcher and specialist in digital stechoscopes at the University of Minnesota, said: "This is the best thing to come around in terms of medical equipment for a very long time. [His] closest competitor charges about 3,000 times as much"
Mr Bentley is now working on further iPhone applications, such as an electrocardiogram reader. "This is the way everyone wants to go," he said.
Life & Style blogs
The mother who never gave up on her child abused by the Oxford child sex ring
Britain scrapes into top 25 countries in the world to be a mother in Save the Children report
How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
The 12 most sexually satisfied countries in the world revealed
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
- 2 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 3 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 4 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...