Smart Stethoscope

An idea from noise-canceling headphones helps make a better stethoscope.
Inside Science Contributor

(Inside Science) -- The coronavirus may be taking center stage lately, but there are still other viruses and bacteria that can cause major health complications. Pneumonia accounts for 1.5 million deaths each year among children 5 and under, more than AIDS and malaria combined. And 98% of those deaths occur in developing countries, where medical facilities are few and far between and not well-fitted with needed equipment.

A stethoscope is one way doctors listen for signs of lung infections. If a patient has pneumonia, the lungs may make a crackling, bubbling or rumbling sound when someone inhales. But in developing countries, there may not be any soundproofed exam rooms available. Doctors often work in noisy environments where it's hard to hear a child's lungs. 

Now researchers took an idea from noise-canceling headphones to make a low-cost, smart stethoscope that could help physicians working in developing countries zero in on sounds in the lungs.