The Smart Stethoscope of the Future

The problem with the humble traditional stethoscope

There is no greater emblem for the profession of the doctor than the humble stethoscope. It was invented in 1816, by  René Laennec who felt it was improper for a doctor to inspect female patient’s heart rate through the usual method of putting their ear to her chest. He concocted a method of saving his blushes by putting a piece rolled up paper to his ear and then resting it against the patient’s chest to listen to their heartbeat. Following on from the success of his paper experiment, he built a series of wooden prototypes that were attached to a single microphone at one end and an earpiece at the other. The name he gave this device was the stethoscope.

Over the course of the next 20 years, the device hardly changed and listening to a heartbeat has remained a manual process which relied entirely on a doctor’s hearing to notice irregularities in patient’s heartbeats. Like musicians, doctor’s have been traditionally forced to develop highly sensitive hearing over decades of practices that gives them the sensitivity to detect the slightest heart murmurs. As well as being forced to develop highly sensitive listening capabilities, doctors are also required to use a lot of guesswork when detecting murmurs, valve problems, and blockages in the arteries. Consequently, many physicians have developed little trust in stethoscopes and often refer patients to cardiologists or to receive echocardiograms. The average cash price for an echocardiogram in the States is $2,275 and even patients that have insurance are usually expected to pay 20-30% of the cost.

A smarter stethoscope

Recognizing the frustrations that physicians have with their beloved but flawed stethoscopes, the team behind the California- based startup Eko Devices, have developed a digital alternative that both amplifies and streams the data to the cloud for analysis.  Eko Devices offer both an attachment that connects to an existing stethoscope or a standalone digital stethoscope. Both work through wirelessly transfers heart sounds from a clinician’s stethoscope to an HIPAA-compliant mobile application.  The companies algorithm analyzes the data and matches in real-time to a database of existing heart conditions. Physicians are able to sync the data with existing electronic health records and also instantly share to other medical professionals.

The Eko Devices stethoscope offers an alternative for physicians that is more reliable, efficient and cost-effective than existing devices. In an interview for Smithsonian,  Jason Bell, co-founder and COO of Eko Devices, expounded on where he felt the device’s value lies,”efficiency is the biggest thing in modern healthcare, a connected device needs to be connected to the tools that physicians rely on”.

Efficiency is the biggest thing in modern healthcare, a connected device needs to be connected to the tools that physicians rely on.
Jason Bellet, Eko Devices

Technology utilized

Self-Contained Audio Driverthis is the largest self-contained audio driver of any stethoscope on the market. It facilitates calibrated audio filtering, white noise reduction, and enhanced 40x amplification.

Bluetooth Module: pairs the stethoscope with iOS or Android devices.

HIPPA Compliant Mobile APP: displays patient’s heart sounds. HIPPA compliance ensures security and interoperability.


The EKO Core, through not only digitally amplifying heart noises but by also seamlessly processing and presenting them through the connected app, has the potential to be a true game-changer in healthcare. The device can replace the rough guesswork and estimation that has traditionally been a defect in cardiac exams, with speedy and precise analysis. The Eko Core is a true exemplar of the power of IoT in healthcare. That is to say, it connects hardware with big data in a way that benefits both patients, doctors, and society.

Build Your Own With HWTrek Experts

Looking to create a healthcare device? We recommend you get in touch with the following experts on the HWTrek Platform:

Audio Driver Experts

Goertek currently holds the largest market value among acoustic companies on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and are leaders in audio system design.
Holtek Semiconductor is one of the leading audio chip providers in Taiwan.
Nuvoton leads the industry in extremely high fidelity solutions for audio applications that serve consumer, automotive, white goods and other markets.

Bluetooth Expert

  MtM Technology is a SiP (System In Package) Design House. They can offer full Bluetooth solutions for your connectivity needs.


Written By

Digital Marketing Manager