In the developed world, when you need a heart exam, it’s available at most any doctor’s office or hospital. In poorer parts of the world, it’s not so easy to get a heart check-up. In fact, 2 billion people don’t have ready access to modern conveniences. In 2012, that inspired 17-year-old Catherine Wong to invent an electrocardiogram test that anyone can perform using a simple cellphone.
With her invention, people could send real-time data about their hearts to doctors, using not much more than a Bluetooth-enabled cellphone. The New Jersey teen’s invention could help doctors remotely diagnose and keep tabs on people all over the world.
The test doesn’t require a fancy smartphone or an Internet connection — Catherine designed it to use a basic phone and readily available electrical parts that don’t cost much. (She doesn’t even own a smartphone! But she does have a flawless SAT score.)
What is an electrocardiogram?
It’s a common test that measures the heart’s rhythms and electrical activity to see how well it’s functioning. It works kind of like a magnifying glass to measure the heart’s rate, its position in the chest, and any abnormal patterns that may indicate problems.
How does Catherine’s device work?
Electrodes — attached to specific spots on a user’s torso — measure the heart’s electrical activity. The microprocessor board that’s part of this invention converts the data and sends the readings through Bluetooth onto a simple Java-enabled cell phone … which then sends it to a doctor.
What is Bluetooth?
It’s a technology standard that lets phones transmit data wirelessly to other devices that are within 30 feet. We usually see Bluetooth used for phone earpieces, speakers, and to connect cellphones with in-car audio systems. It’s named for a long-ago king of Denmark and Norway named Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, who had a very obvious bad tooth but was great at getting different groups to work together.