iStethoscope app just sound waves without direction

Sep 9, 2010
Tech

iStethoscope would be exactly what the doctor ordered for would-be physicians who want to measure their heartbeat, if only it worked. The curious medical app comes with few discernable instructions. A button on the app activates it, and that same button works to offer different levels of audio reception, but there are no instructions anywhere […]

iStethoscope would be exactly what the doctor ordered for would-be physicians who want to measure their heartbeat, if only it worked.

The curious medical app comes with few discernable instructions. A button on the app activates it, and that same button works to offer different levels of audio reception, but there are no instructions anywhere within the app. To figure out how to properly use the app, you’ll have to go to the developer’s web site, as noted in the App store.

While I can’t divine why they wouldn’t put any sort of instruction in the app itself, the instructions on the web site, tantamount to “push the iPhone speaker up to your chest and listen to hear a consistent sound,” aren’t much better than receiving no instructions at all.

What you do hear when you manage to follow these instructions is a mix of the occasional heart beat and some muffled background noise, as if you’re hearing something underwater. It’s difficult to know if you’re actually hearing a heart beat at all because it’s so inconsistent. This might speak to some sort of large medical problem in my life, I suppose, but I tend to think it’s the app at fault rather than my ticker.

If you can get the app to work for you, you’ll also see a graphic charting the rhythm of your heart, but with no explanation as to what the chart is trying to tell you, it might as well be smiley faces instead of sound waves that it displays.

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It could be that this app is strictly for medical professionals, but I tend to believe those sorts already have their own real stethoscopes and wouldn’t be relying on an app to listen to someone’s heart. For the layman, this app is confusing and in need of major explanation to be of any use whatsoever. Until that overhaul happens, you’re better off playing doctor with your Fischer-Price stethoscope.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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