AI-enabled low-cost digital stethoscope wins innovation award


An artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled low-cost digital stethoscope – invented during the COVID-19 pandemic by University of Cambridge engineering department alumna Dr Ruodan Lu – has won an industry innovation award.

Known as ‘Jade’, the stethoscope is the result of collaborative work involving the University of Cambridge, Loughborough University and Shandong University. The researchers say it is the first at-home stethoscope of its kind that provides a world-beating solution with a minimum cost of roughly £3.50 per unit. The prototype has won the ‘Outstanding Innovation in Communications and IT’ Award at the IET - Institution of Engineering and Technology’s E&T Innovation Awards 2020.

Lead researcher Dr Lu said the wireless AI-empowered stethoscope – a device for listening to the internal sounds of the body – can easily collect lung and heart sounds via a one-touch record button. These recordings and captured data can then be livestreamed wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet for audible and visual analysis by the research team’s state-of-the-art AI model. The inclusion of the mobile app and its simple on-screen instructions aids faster detection and diagnostics of respiratory abnormalities, she said, and this means that people with suspected symptoms of COVID-19 and underlying respiratory conditions can use the prototype device themselves at home.

“Jade is an open-source telehealth product for public health. It is an affordable, yet radical new approach that combines Artificial Intelligence-of-Things (AIoT) and medical technology to catapult the traditional stethoscope into a revolutionised phase of usage,” said Dr Lu, a senior member of Darwin College.

“Jade measures body temperature, collects respiratory sounds from heart and lungs, as well as self-reported symptoms data. With this information, Jade determines in off-line mode whether the person being tested is a suspected patient with COVID-19. This is done via a built-in AI model that has been trained using real COVID-19 data.

“Jade does not and will never replace doctors. Rather, it eases the strain on clinicians and medical resource allocation by helping triage patients suspected of having COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases at the earliest point of care, both in and out of hospitals. With Jade, the patient’s information is immediately available and accessible from its secure web dashboard, enabling clinicians to virtually diagnose cardiac and pulmonary problems as if they were standing at the bedside.”

IET President, Professor Danielle George, said: “There has never been a more important time to recognise and celebrate the innovations that are bringing about real change and are helping to solve the global challenges we face today. In these uncertain times, we need innovators and creative minds from across all sectors to work together to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These annual awards celebrate the achievements of the most outstanding innovations across engineering and technology. The finalists this year all demonstrate the imagination of engineers worldwide and we are so proud to show our support for these exceptional minds. A huge congratulations to all our winners.”

View the full list of the 2020 E&T Innovation Award winners.

Adapted from an IET press release.

Reproduced courtesy of University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering

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The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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