One of the greatest challenges in a rural setting would be the lack of medical facilities – and having the right equipment is vital to keeping one alive, especially in an emergecy situation. Well, while around 50% of all Africans own a cell phone, the majority of the cell phone owners will be unable to access proper medical services when required. This is not good news, especially when a disease responsible for killing many Africans being tuberculous pericarditis, can easily be diagnosed with a standard stethoscope in order to address it with the right kind of treatment.

Necessity being the mother of all invention has moved a team of researchers from the University of Oxford to work on a new kind of stethoscope which will rely on the microphone input of a cell phone. This is a basic stethoscope at best, sporting an external microphone that is attached to the base of an egg-cup in order to focus and collect any sound.

All phonocardiograms recorded can be analyzed by a computer in order to filter out distortion and noise, while processing the signal in order to identify the heart rate and abnormal heart sounds. Nice to know that an iPhone 3G and a Nokia 3100 Classic have been tested to work as an impromptu stethoscope with success, where the Finnish handset actually outperformed a 3M Littmann Electronic Stethoscope in detecting heart rate.

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