Space itself is quiet – no air equals no sound – but inside the ISS you have a 24-hour lit environment of ambient noise, such as computers running, buzzing fans and the general drone of hubbub that means constant noise to interfere with faint heart sounds. Cue some engineering students from John Hopkins University who have developed a “space stethoscope” that employs both electronic and mechanical approaches to help the internal microphone of the stethoscope pick up clear sounds, even on a noisy spacecraft and even when the device is positioned incorrectly on the astronaut’s body, as may happen when placed by a non-medically trained person.
Like so many of the technologies developed for use in outer space though, the team from Hopkins hopes that it will also have use in developing countries where medical care conditions can be primitive, recording heart and lungs sounds of children and automatically identifying the typical wheezing and crackling breath sounds related to common diseases.
Read more: http://releases.jhu.edu/2013/05/20/new-out-of-this-world-space-stethoscope-valuable-here-on-earth-too/
Some other medical spin-offs from space – just some of many: Programmable pacemaker, Digital imaging breast biopsy system, Laser angioplasty, Ultrasound skin damage assessment, Human tissue stimulator, Ocular screening, Voice-controlled wheelchair and many, many more!