A stethoscope app? Be still my beating heart

The iStetho Adapter, from start-up RidRx, converts an old stethoscope into an electronic one using an iPhone or iPod Touch and the iStethoscope Pro app.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read
The iStetho Adapter converts an old stethoscope into an electronic one using an iPhone or iPod Touch and the iStethoscope Pro app. The Undercover Scientist

If you're the kind of person who likes to take scissors to old gadgets, this one's for you. Start-up RidRx is now selling an adapter to connect old stethoscopes to an iPhone or iPod Touch, along with a phone dock/holder and an app that translates the audio your stethoscope captures into such delightful digital accoutrements as sound spectrograms.

And yes, the firm's easy-to-follow instructions include taking trauma shears to your old 'scope to fit it to the patent-pending iStetho Adapter. So the whole process, from tinkering with hardware to taking current heart-rate readings with the iStethoscope Pro app, promises to be a heart-healthy thrill.

Medgadget, which reported on the release of the adapter on Tuesday morning, is also publishing the following disclaimer:

U.S. FDA and other regulatory agencies are far behind the times that we live in, so they have no current policies to deal with the proliferation of mobile computing devices and their potential uses in medicine. Hence, none of the iPhone applications and attachments are classified as medical devices, so they are sold for nonmedical uses only.

In other words, the adapter can really only be marketed for recreational use. Still, I can see a wide range of medical applications for such a mobile stethoscope, including measuring the effect on my own cardiovascular health of the Microsoft vs. Mac comments that could very well somehow manage to work their way into this thread... (Ahem.)

For an informative, quiet, and ultimately entertaining tutorial on how to use the app, watch The Undercover Scientist's presentation below:

For a "limited time," the adapter is $29.99. And if you don't have an old stethoscope lying around, you can pick up their recommended Trimline stethoscope for $79.99. The app itself, which has been available for a few months, will set you back 99 cents.