It's never too early to give Junior his or her very own digital audio system and P2P network.

Scientists at the Manoharbhai Patel Institute of Engineering & Technology in Gondia, India, have developed a MP3 creation and transmission device for unborn babies.

The potentially life-saving technology is actually a fetal heart monitor and alert system, all in one.

Listening womb

The device is based on two small acoustic sensors that monitor fetal heart rate and feed the information to a wave analyser in a bedside personal computer connected to the internet. The first microphone is attached to the mother's abdomen to pick up the sound of the fetus' heartbeat, the second is attached further away to pick up ambient and bodily noise.

Computer software then subtracts the "noise" channel from the fetal sound to produce a WAV file that can be further analysed for medical anomalies. Should a problem be detected the WAV file could be compressed to MP3 for rapid upload via the internet to a doctor's computer or to trigger a gentle warning to seek medical assistance.

The team points out that they have successfully tested their monitoring system on several women at various stages of pregnancy. They also emphasise that the system is a passive one, in which no energy enters the mother's womb at any point.