Monday, November 28, 2022

With the 'Taal' digital stethoscope, this startup hopes to make it easier to listen to the heart and lungs

 Taal is "digital" in nature, unlike a conventional stethoscope, and it can record, store, and share body sounds.

One thing becomes abundantly clear after a brief exchange with Sumukh Mysore and Arvind Badrinarayanan, the creators of the Taal digital stethoscope:They don't want to be called just another company that makes stethoscopes.

Mysore sets the tone for how the world should view Bengaluru-based Muse Diagnostics by stating, "We are more of a sound diagnostics company than a hardware or technology company.""We are not just improving efficiencies in an existing process, we are creating an entirely new paradigm of medicine," adds Badrinarayanan.

Mysore, a geneticist and sound engineer, remembers meeting Badrinarayanan, a veterinarian, for the first time in a Bengaluru recording studio in 2016.While Mysore was recording music, Badrinarayanan came to the studio to record dog heart sounds. A joke that the two of them shared led to the idea of developing Taal, which was sold as part of the beta testing process.

An acoustic medical instrument called a stethoscope is used to listen to the sounds made by the heart, lungs, or intestines, as well as the flow of blood through arteries and veins in an animal or human body.A stethoscope is a medical instrument with one or two tubes connected to two earpieces and a small disc-shaped resonator that is positioned against the skin of a patient.

However, Taal is "digital" in nature, unlike a conventional stethoscope, and it is able to record, store, and share body sounds.If you have water in your lungs or a bronchi cackle, your lungs will make sounds you can't hear, so you should get a physical exam."Because you can now use this as a home tool, that's where we thought a stethoscope became very interesting," Mysore explains.

He continues, "A stethoscope is that kind of tool, which is quite diverse in is not specific to one thing like a BP machine is only for high blood pressure or a thermometer is only for fever."We wanted to change the perception that a stethoscope is always used by doctors.

Before meeting Mysore, Badrinarayanan had always considered making a digital stethoscope, but he wasn't sure how to get there.Badrinarayanan describes his concept for developing a digital stethoscope, saying, "I had a professor in veterinary college who became frustrated whenever an interesting case came in and he was unable to explain it to students because he could not capture that sound and then send it to the class."

Even though digital stethoscopes have been around for a while, Badrinarayanan claims that they are not only pricey but also difficult to use from a software standpoint.

In 2016, Mysore and his team began working on Taal, and a year later, they were successful in producing a prototype of the device.The initial objective was to develop a low-cost digital stethoscope; however, as the project progressed, the team realized that they also needed to concentrate on the electronics and design.

Even though the initial version of Taal was still being developed internally, it used analog chips without a way to reduce background noise.During the time that the device was still in the development stage, the microphones that were used in Alexa smart speakers were getting smaller, so the team came up with the idea to use them and built a proprietary chamber that provided a particular kind of resonance that was extremely precise, similar to the one that is found in Littmann stethoscopes.

The outer casing of Taal is made of medical-grade materials and is as small as your palm.Additionally, it has USB-C and 3.5mm Aux inputs, making it simple to transfer sounds to your phone and computer."Why should a stethoscope remain the same shape as something that was invented 150 years ago?" Badrinarayanan asks. "They didn't fit into what I thought.

One more part of the computerized stethoscope is to record and store sounds for which Mysore and his group have made a versatile application called Surr. "Mysore says, "It's almost like music software; it records data, stores data, and forwards data." He also says the app lets users filter sounds based on what the professional wants to diagnose.The software will be further refined in the future with the assistance of AI and machine learning.Badrinarayanan adds, "We are basically establishing the standard for how medical-grade sound should be transmitted without data loss."

Badrinarayanan claims that rather than merely identifying sounds, they are focusing on the complete disease analytics.This has the potential to prompt a doctor in the same way that an ECG does.

Mysore and his team are distributing Taal through two distinct models: the device sale model, in which the digital stethoscope can be purchased for Rs 8800, and the pay-per-use SaaS model, in which the product is provided for free but the company charges Rs 100 each time Taal is used.

According to Mysore, telemedicine companies make up the majority of Taal's clients.Taal is being purchased by telemedicine companies that lack doctors' expertise, he states.Unlike a traditional stethoscope, which is primarily sold to educational institutions, colleges, and teachers, this device is positioned very differently, he explains.

The Taal digital stethoscope has been purchased by 1,000 people so far by the Bengaluru-based startup.Telemedical companies are deploying Taal in some areas, particularly the rural belt, including Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, and Jharkhand.In the urban areas of Bengaluru and Hyderabad, Mysore has also seen an increase in the use of Taal, in which nurses send the data to doctors, who then interpret it back.

In any case, Taal isn't yet prepared for general patients yet because of government endorsements and the way that the innovation hasn't developed.

The Bengaluru-based company wants to get new investments, but Muse Diagnostics has been dealing with the toughest fundraising environment, just like any other startup.These kinds of hardware-based tools are very unpopular with venture capitalists, but in medicine, things have to be real, right?According to Badrinarayanan, "we need to have something that is physically there to capture information" because we are interacting with human bodies.

Catch Daily Highlights In Your Email

* indicates required

Post Top Ad