Innovative app allows users to record heartbeat at home
Orianna Xu discusses the recent development of an app which allows users to record their heart beat and that could help them to detect any cardiac problems at home.
There may not be an app for everything (yet), but with the launch of Echoes, iPhone users can download a stethoscope from the app store. This year, researchers at King’s College London created Echoes in collaboration with Cellule design studio to provide heart disease education and explore the possibility of monitoring heart conditions remotely. According to a paper published in September, “over 80 per cent of users were able to make at least one good quality recording,” and while “success rate tended to decrease with age in the first attempt”. iPhone version, sex, and BMI does not affect recording success.
Over 80 per cent of users were able to make at least one good quality recording
With a soothing color palette and clean lines, the app details how the heart makes its characteristic “lub-dub” sound before guiding users through the recording process; simply sit in a quiet space and hold the mic to four sites while leaning forward. (Privacy-minded users will be relieved to learn that recordings are deidentified before joining an anonymous online archive.) After recording, users can listen to their hearts and visualize them with a sound wave and 3D animation. It is the designers’ hope that the experience will be intuitive, fun, and meditative, promoting a personal connection between users and their bodies.
It is the designers’ hope that the experience will be intuitive, fun, and meditative, promoting a personal connection between users and their bodies
While Echoes is currently an education and research tool, its clinical potential is manifold. Recording heart sounds may enable users to monitor their cardiac health from the comfort of home, eliminating the commute to the doctor’s, not to mention wait times. Eventually, Echoes may even detect heart conditions, which would benefit those who are unable to routinely visit their doctors. A possible concern, one that is inextricably tied to the democratisation of medicine, is that GPs may be overwhelmed with enquiries from worried patients. Ultimately, people have hearts that they must follow, and Echoes may help them do just that.