A new app that records the beating of a user’s heart through a mobile phone has been co-created by researchers from academic institutions, including King’s College London (KCL).
Staff from KCL’s School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences and the Netherlands’ Maastricht University worked with designers from the Cellule design studio to create what they called a ‘one-of-a-kind app’, which picks up heart sounds.
With testing support from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation (ECHO), the app – named Echoes – was developed to find out whether mobile tech is a ‘viable way of recording heart sounds’, with a mooted future in mind where cardiac patients and clinicians could use remote monitoring and home recordings to check for or report changes.
Beyond this use case, it’s thought users without heart conditions could use the technology for meditative purposes, to monitor the differences in their heartbeat before and after exercise, and that it could be used to raise the general public awareness of heart disease.
Speaking about the app’s potential, Samantha Johnson, CEO at ECHO, explained: “We are keen to explore how digital tools such as Echoes make knowledge accessible for as many heart families as possible. By using the app we hope that parents, carers and children can learn about their heart, have fun exploring with recording the sounds of their heart and feel connected to those they choose to share them with.”
According to KCL, users can save recordings of their heart, which are then added to a database for researchers to analyse for both sound quality and health indicators. The database will then also be analysed itself to see ‘how well the technology performs’. Recordings are also anonymised with only relevant medical information attached.
Professor Pablo Lamata, School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences, said: “The vision for Echoes is that this app can increase the awareness of the general public about how the heart works and that in the long run we could routinely monitor the heart from home instead of having to rely solely on hospital visits.”
Honxing Luo, PhD Student, Maastricht University, added: “Echoes uses heart sound to improve patient’s treatment response. With such apps, we foresee a much wider coverage of the public, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, skin colour, height or weight. The beauty of the Internet lies in its equality to promote knowledge to anyone who wants it and our app surely shows this.”