An app after your own heart
It's kind of pathetic that the whole time I've been writing this blog entry I've had an old Partridge Family song -- "I Can Feel Your Heartbeat" -- going through my head. Too bad there's not an app for that.
If it's a quasi-stethoscope app you're after, though, you're in luck.
Peter Bentley, a researcher at University College London, has invented an iPhone application that acts much like a stethoscope. Once you've invoked iStethoscope, you press the phone's
microscope microphone against the bare skin of the chest. The sound of the heartbeat within is then audible (best heard if you're wearing full earphones rather than earbuds, which don't carry the deep sound of the heartbeat very well), and a spectrogram image of the heart's rhythm appears on the phone's screen.
The app is more than just a parlor trick: Bentley says the data it gleans could be easily relayed to a physician or medical center for evaluation, allowing people in places remote from modern medical care to have their heart rhythms examined. Though the app can't make a diagnosis, Bentley says it could someday be paired with software that could distinguish whether the heartbeat were normal or not.
The app has been wildly popular (despite a recent problem with accessing the advertising-support free version) among doctors. But the iStethoscope is among a field of health-related mobile-device technologies that the FDA is keeping a close eye on. The FDA acknowledges the promise that mobile-device-based medical technologies carry even while noting that the agency, which regulates medical devices, will have to figure out how to regulate this new breed of tools.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| October 21, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Cardiovascular Health, General Health, Health News, Medical Technology
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