Stethoscopes have been around for almost 200 years, but they might soon be replaced by a new device powered by smartphones.
The upstart technology is called 'HeartBuds' and it takes the form of a small circular gadget, placed on the chest to listen to a heartbeat.
But unlike a stethoscope, you or your doctor don't listen through a tube in your ears. Instead you plug it into your smartphone, where an accompanying iOS app plays the heartbeat aloud, as well as recording it and showing rhythmic blips that correspond with each sound.
Replay and share
This allows both the patient and the doctor to hear the heartbeat and also means the doctor can easily play it back later or share and discuss it with colleagues.
Or, if you get HeartBuds of your own you could potentially send the recordings to your doctor for them to analyse, without ever having to set foot in their surgery.
Importantly, it's been found to be just as good at picking up sounds as the best stethoscopes on the market, and significantly better than disposable models. It's also more hygienic than a stethoscope, as with no earpiece there's no opportunity for bacteria to nest in it.
It's surely about time the medical world started making more use of the high-tech gadgets we all carry around with us and HeartBuds sounds like a promising step in that direction.