A smartphone app that listens to a person’s heartbeat could one day allow doctors to monitor for conditions remotely, scientists behind the project hope.
A group from King’s College London and Maastricht University in the Netherlands came up with Echoes, which records beats and uploads them to a database along with anonymised anthropometrics and cardiac health indicators for analysis.
The aim is to improve the general public’s awareness of heart conditions.
For those without cardiac conditions it could also serve as a useful meditative tool, or to compare heartbeat before and after exercise.
Professor Pablo Lamata, a heart researcher at King’s College London, has been investigating ways to improve the management of aortic stenosis, where the valve is narrowed and restricts blood flow.
“The vision for Echoes is that this app can increase the awareness of the general public about how the heart works and that in the long run we could routinely monitor the heart from home instead of having to rely solely on hospital visits,” he said.
If the technology is developed further, it could allow allow cardiac patients and doctors to spot sudden or significant changes.
Design studio Cellule also worked on the project, alongside the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation (ECHO) who contributed testing support.
Hongxing Luo, a PhD student at Maastricht University who thought up the idea of using a smartphone, said: “Echoes uses heart sound to improve patients’ treatment response.
“With such apps, we foresee a much wider coverage of the public, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, skin colour, height or weight.
“The beauty of the internet lies in its equality to promote knowledge to anyone who wants it and our app surely shows this.”