1270: The Story Behind The First Digital Stethoscope
Thinklabs was founded in 1991 by Clive Smith, an Electrical Engineering graduate of Caltech. The name implies the company's goal - think deeply about problems that matter and develop imaginative solutions. Smith has always had a passion for medical electronics, sound, music, and signal processing.
In the mid-'90s, Smith read a Circulation paper, indicating that stethoscope acoustics had not improved since Laennec built the first stethoscope in 1816. Physicians confirmed that even top-of-the-line conventional stethoscopes did a poor job of amplifying heart and lung sounds. Thus began Smith's obsession to re-invent the stethoscope.
The concept of an electronic stethoscope was not new. For a century, the road to perfect auscultation was littered with the carcasses of failed efforts. Smith started experimenting. Technologies were tested, rejected, modified and retested. The key breakthrough came with a question: How can one create an electrical analog to the acoustic pressure changes in a conventional stethoscope?
All the benefits of advanced electronic technology would then accrue and the authentic sound of the stethoscope would be preserved. Physicians would not require any ear retraining. A completely new transducer was needed.
Clive Smith went on to design the One Digital Stethoscope. But I want to find out more about that journey and the Thinklabs One motto of never stop inventing. We discuss how doctors and patients are leveraging new technology for remote medicine.