“17.5 million every year die from cardiovascular diseases and even after tests, 20% of all heart anomalies go undetected. However, the S³ Stethoscope is able to capture the patient’s heartsound for better diagnosis.”
“And by detecting the undetected, early detection is now possible.”
4 days ago, a team of 3 Nanyang Poly (NYP) students took the auditorium stage of a hotel in Manila. It was the scene of Microsoft’s global Imagine Cup innovation competition, except that 2017 marked a special year.
In light of ASEAN 50, Imagine Cup saw its first S.E.A. semi-finals, where the team went up against college and university students from 9 other countries.
And they walked away with $2,000, the 1st Runner Up, and a ticket to the World Finals in Seattle this July.
The S³ Stethoscope
The stethoscope is set to address the flaws in current methods of heart diagnosis. These include the listening time being too brief, and the difficulty of identifying anomalous heartsounds.
A little technical information is that heartsounds are the ‘lubs’ and ‘dubs’ of the heartbeat.
The normal sounds are S1 and S2 but sometimes, anomalous ones appear as S3 and S4. As these sounds come and go, they may not be picked up during consultation.
The S³ Stethoscope – a wearable device capable of recording these heartsounds. If a doctor thinks a patient requires more attention, he can prescribe a stethoscope for them to wear. Realtime data is uploaded to the Microsoft Azure cloud where doctors can analyse it in greater detail.
Despite its status as a project, the device already has the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS)’s stamp of approval.
Dr. Jonathan Yap described it as “transcending physical barriers of telemedicine [as] an extension to the doctor’s arm.”
Similarly, Associate Professor KK Yeo reflected that it was “an innovative device [that] allows very precise recordings of heartsounds [and] doctors from all fields would be able to [benefit].”
The project was initially a project passed on from the students’ professors, but the software solution was the team’s effort.
Team Heartsound Of NYP
The team consists of 3 NYP students – Sean Wong, Anthony Chew and Lian Min, and coming from a variety of diplomas, each of them brings a different skillset.
A Telematics, Multimedia and Technology student, Anthony is the software developer. Min comes from Biomedical Engineering, and was involved in the hardware development of the device. Meanwhile, Sean is a student of Cyber Security and Forensic, and has always had a keen interest in technology.
The trio triumphed over teams from polytechnics, NTU, and NUS in the national finals to come to Manila, where they now advance into the World Finals representing Singapore.
The journey has not been easy, as Min shares that one of their worst memories was when the demo failed to work the day before the Singapore Finals. In addition, the team had taken a midnight flight into Manila where they arrived at the hotel at 4:30 am and the rooms were not yet available.
“We didn’t get enough sleep, and had to quickly set up and prepare for our presentation the very next day,” Sean described.
Reflections Of Manila
The Imagine Cup competition saw Microsoft’s head honchos as well as the Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN – H.E. Dr. AKP Mochtan – gracing the event to commemorate ASEAN 50.
Being put in the same space allowed the team to receive mentorship from industry leaders such as Dr. Jennifer Tang, previous Imagine Cup Winner (Eyenaemia) and founder of Stat Innovations. Similarly, they were able to chat to and learn from the other student teams present.
The team describes the experience as “something they would remember for life,” as they express a collective gratitude to their mentors, Ms. Lam and Mr. Liaw, as well as Kyzer Wong of Microsoft Singapore.
“Without all their support, our team would not have been able to make it this far.”
As for clinching 1st Runner Up, the team describes it as “surreal” and “unexpected but great, as [they] did not expect to come up in Top 3.”
“However, the presentation could be improved as we received feedback on how we should have been clearer on the use of our device as a pre-diagnostic tool.”
A Timeline Till July
The trio only has a few months to improve their product and pitch for when they enter the World Finals end-July, for the teams they’ll be up against will be of a different class altogether.
From now on, Anthony shares that “there is still a lot to do. From improving their slides to ensuring a stable application, as well as readying their machine learning model.”
“We are really proud of our device, but we aim to improve on it being slimmer as a wearable too,” he elaborates, a thought mirrored by Min.
At the same time, Sean describes that the team will start on their clinical trials, which will enable them to boost their machine learning.
As of the moment, the team describes the Stethoscope as an “extension to a doctor’s arm”. However they do hope that one day, it’ll become a basic lifestyle monitoring aid with predictive analysis capabilities as well.
Congratulations again to Team Heartsound from NYP, and all the best at the World Finals!
Featured Image Credit: Samantha Tay / Vulcan Post