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USF-Designed "Electronic Stethoscope" Wins Award

May 14, 2012

A pair of University of South Florida researchers has won the third annual Cade Museum Prize for Innovation for a device they've developed that uses sound waves from inside a patient's body to diagnose health problems.

Phil Hipol, the engineering director at USF Health's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), and Dr. Stuart Hart, professor in USF Health's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, won the prize for their electronic catheter stethoscope, or "eCath."

According to the USF student newspaper, the Oracle

The eCath is a small electronic device consisting of a sensor assembly and microphone. It can communicate information wirelessly to a computer and allows listeners to hear sounds from inside the body, Hart said. The device connects externally to any catheter, a tube inserted into the body that can be used to drain the bladder, inject drugs or allow the passage of fluids, depending on where it’s inserted.

The device also uses sound frequencies to make sure incisions were made properly during surgery, an idea based on technology developed by the U.S. Navy. 

“Back in the ’50s and ’60s, the U.S. Navy would use very sophisticated signal processing capability,” Hart said. “They could filter out the noise of the ocean and hone in on specific sounds for Russian subs, so they could actually detect where a Russian sub was heading and the depth of the Russian sub simply by sounds that the Russian sub emitted.”

Working under the business name, BioAcousTech, the pair beat out more than 120 other applicants from around the state, winning $50,ooo from the Community Foundation of North Central Florida, and $10,000 in legal services from Edwards Wildman Palmer of West Palm Beach.

The Cade Museum website says the Prize "is designed to encourage innovation and invention by providing an incentive for early-stage companies to move ideas and products closer to marketplace viability," with entries judged on innovative quality, breadth of impact and breakthrough potential. 

According to the Gainesville Sun, BioAcousTech is the first winner of the Prize from outside the Gainesville area, as the Museum's board aimed at making this year's competition more of a statewide one.

Hart and Hipol indicate they'll use the prize money for the continued research and development of the eScope, with the goal of eventually bringing the device to market.