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What Is a Stethoscope App?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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A stethoscope app is a downloadable program that can turn a smartphone into heart monitor in situations where a traditional stethoscope is not available. Some of these applications are designed to use the smartphone's built-in microphone, while others can use a modified stethoscope peripheral. In addition to transmitting the sound of a heartbeat or lungs to headphones, these applications typically also record the heartbeat and other vital signs. That makes it possible for a person to record his or her own vitals and then email them to a physician. Regulations can preclude a stethoscope app from being marketed for medical use since smartphones do not have a medical device classification, but these programs can still be useful diagnostic tools in a variety of circumstances.

Apps are small programs that are designed to run primarily on smartphones and other portable devices. These programs can typically be downloaded directly to a smartphone or other device, or transferred over from a traditional computer. A wide variety of different apps are available for each platform in categories such as productivity, content access, and entertainment. Some of these programs, such as stethoscope apps, are able to simulate the functionality of other devices or technologies.

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In order to function, a stethoscope app depends on the microphone present in each smartphone. It is the presence of these microphones, along with the computing power of modern smartphones, that allowed these apps to be developed. The microphone has to be pressed solidly to the chest of a person in just the right spot so that it will be able to pick up a heartbeat or the sound of breathing lungs. It can take doctors a while to learn the proper way to use a stethoscope, and the proper placement of a smartphone when using a stethoscope app is no different.

After the microphone has been placed in the correct position, a stethoscope app is capable of recording the sound input and also transmitting it to a headset. This can allow someone to listen to a heartbeat in real time while also recording heartbeat data for later analysis. Depending on the app, a visual record of the heartbeat may also be displayed on the screen during use.

Stethoscope apps are typically designed to work with built-in smartphone microphones, though some can also be used with special stethoscope peripherals. This type of peripheral typically consists of a modified stethoscope that attaches to the phone and connects the tube directly to the face of the built-in microphone. Since stethoscopes typically have a diaphragm end for low frequency sounds, and a hollow bell for high frequencies, this can result in a more efficient transfer of sound.

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