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Seven High-Tech Products Slowly Replacing the Stethoscope

Here’s a list of up-and-coming devices that could change the way you assess your patient’s heartbeat and breathing.

Photo by: Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

The stethoscope has remained a fundamental tool for all healthcare providers for over two hundred years. But with recent technological advances, the instrument draped around your neck may slowly become outdated. Here’s a list of up-and-coming devices that could change the way you assess your patient’s heartbeat and breathing.

Hand-Held Ultrasounds

Portable ultrasounds let you hear the sound of your patient’s heartbeat and see it, too. The devices display an image of the heart on a screen, which can be recorded or shared with colleagues — a handy feature in emergencies. And with no earpieces, you don’t need to worry about cleaning your scope!

Some popular portable ultrasounds:

The Butterfly iQ

This compact device costs approximately $2,000 and features a single probe that delivers high-quality images for various clinical use cases, from fetal and abdominal, to cardiac, gynecological, urological, and pediatric. Accompanied by the Butterfly iQ app, the system lets providers store and share scans over WiFi or via a cellular connection. The single probe can emulate various wave patterns, and the app uses artificial intelligence to inform you whether your images are good quality.

Philips Lumify

Like the Butterfly iQ, the portable Lumify has a transducer paired with an app. Lumify is an integrated tele-ultrasound tool that relies on two-way, audio-visual calls with live ultrasound streaming when hooked up to a phone or tablet. It also offers video calling and lets the smart device’s front-facing camera show the probe’s position.

Electronic Stethoscopes

Electronic stethoscopes overcome a traditional stethoscope’s low sound levels by converting sound waves obtained through the chest piece into electrical signals, which can then be amplified for optimal listening.

Eko Digital Stethoscope

Eko Devices, a health-tech firm based in California, is developing artificial intelligence algorithms for its devices, using recordings of thousands of heartbeats. Their devices let providers know if the heart sounds received are normal or if murmurs are present. The Eko Digital Stethoscope, priced at approximately $300, can wirelessly transmit stethoscope audio via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet.


A Polish startup developed this smart, wireless stethoscope to detect, classify, and analyze pathological sounds within children’s lungs. Accompanied by a smartphone app, it is equipped with Bluetooth and employs AI algorithms to detect abnormal sounds — such as wheezes, crackles, and rhonchi — in a child’s respiratory system. If the device picks up anything irregular, it sends the results directly to a healthcare provider for remote consultation.

Thinklabs One

A small, circular device that can fit in the palm of your hand, Thinklabs One amplifies sounds and provides various audio filtering options to better hear heart murmurs, diastolic rumbles, lungs, and more. Priced at approximately $500, it works with most headphones and can connect to tablets and smartphones to visually display audio waveforms. It also lets you record and hone in on specific spots in the audio file.


This electronic audio device, priced at $50, attaches to smartphones and allows anyone to monitor their heart anywhere in the world. With the click of a few buttons, patients can download the HeartBuds app onto a smartphone, use the connected device to monitor their vitals, and send the results directly to their healthcare provider. Although the FDA has not approved the device, one study suggests it’s as effective as its more popular counterparts, such as Littmann’s Cardiology III and Electronic 3200. Researchers also found it to be of comparable acoustic quality.

Other Techniques

Electromechanical Dissociation

Two researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology developed an analytical technique that can digitally listen and diagnose a wide range of heart problems. The method focuses on EMD, the sound waves a beating heart produces. It breaks down the sounds of each cycle, isolates the sounds of interest from background noise, and measures sound quality and other variables. A computer program then classifies the sounds, determining which specific noises or movements indicate heart problems. Proponents say it removes the element of guesswork out of a diagnosis.

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