Student app to detect heart murmur
Many of us could have undiagnosed heart conditions, heart murmurs of various kinds that could put us at risk. Three transition year students from Coláiste Mhuire, Mayo believe they have come up with an answer, a phone app that can detect a range of heart murmurs without having to bring in medical expertise.
Jason Hennigan, Kevin Lally and Emma Louise Ní Dhomhnaill knew of students and family members with murmurs and they were mindful of the death in 2004 of All-Ireland winning Tyrone footballer Cormac McAnallen in 2004. They wondered whether a simple phone app that could detect murmurs might help. "We decided to try and make one," Jason said.
They began to research the different types of heart murmur and how you go about building an app. They also tested whether the microphone on a standard iPhone was sensitive enough to pick up the faint sounds of a murmur. They found that it could and downloaded the specific sound signals of seven different common murmurs from a medical web site.
Emma explained how the system would work. Once the app is switched on in a quiet location, the user holds the phone up against their chest for s few seconds while the sounds are sampled. The app would then compare the heart sounds with its stored catalogue of different murmurs, looking for a match. If a match is detected the app encourages the user to visit their doctor and have the murmur checked.
The group is now ready to begin building the app but has run into a slight problem. "We have all the parts but now we need the code," says Kevin. The three plan to learn how to write app code for the Apple and the Android formats. Their tests showed that all the components will work and they expect to have a working app by the time the 2014 BT Young Scientist comes along.