Today, Bothell, Washington-based Steth IO announced the launch of its smartphone-based digital stethoscope.
The product, also named Steth IO, is built directly into the protective case of a physician’s iPhone (models 6 and higher), allowing them to listen to and measure heart rates or lung sounds by running an app and holding the phone up to a patient’s chest. The device was cleared by the FDA in 2016, and is retailing for $199 online.
“I have been using this product for a few months now … and as well as helping my diagnoses, I’ve found patients are much more engaged in their own physical exam,” Dr. Mahesh Mulumudi, president, CMO, and cofounder of Steth IO, as well as the division chief of medicine and medical director of interventional cardiology at Providence Regional Medical Center, said in a statement. “They love to see and hear their own heart and lung sounds.”
Steth IO’s product requires no batteries or charging, as it draws power directly from the user’s iPhone. Using the free app, practitioners can see a visualization of the patient’s heart and lung sounds directly on the phone’s screen while using any pair of headphones to listen. Further, physicians can make a recording of their examination, organize each by patient within the app’s menus, add notes and flag clips within the recordings, and export or share the file if a second opinion is needed.
"What makes Steth IO's stethoscope unique is that the bell of the scope is integrated into an iPhone case, and is a patented, acoustic device that channels the sounds into the microphone of the smartphone,” a representative of Steth IO told MobiHealthNews in an email. “No Bluetooth pairing, batteries, or charging is needed. The Steth IO application displays the sounds captured in a real-time visualization. This allows the physician to see and hear heart or lung sounds at the same time, using their phone.”
While Steth IO touts the app’s digital filters that automatically boost important frequencies and attenuate background noise, the company is also looking to add AI capabilities to assist practitioners. Specifically, a machine learning capability is planned for later this year that will analyze recorded heart and lung sounds and highlight to the physician those that likely need further attention.
The first version of Steth IO’s digital stethoscope was created by Mulumudi’s son, Suman Mulumudi, in 2013. He was 15 years old at the time, and now holds a position as the company’s cofounder and CPO while pursuing a computer science degree at Columbia University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Steth IO’s device is entering a fairly contested market. In January of this year, Brisbane, Australia-based M3DICINE launched its wireless, smartphone-compatible, AI-boosted stethoscope Stethee for iOS and Android users. The year prior, Berkeley, California-based Eko Devices received FDA clearance for its combination digital stethoscope and portable electrocardiogram, Duo, while TytoCare’s own digital stethoscope designed for remote medical examinations received the regulator’s nod in late 2016.