Joule’s 3D print challenge transforms eureka moments in to real-life prototypes 

Joule’s goal is to spark innovation by creating the climate and headspace to make it happen. What better way to get people thinking outside the box than to set up a challenge?  Joule’s 3D print challenge inspired the journey from concept to market with a focus on the initial “idea to prototype” stage.  The goal was to empower healthcare practitioners to unleash their creative energy to design a prototype of a physical device that will solve a real-life medical issue - a device that can be made using a 3D printer. 

Joule’s 3D print challenge spawned a range of potentially promising applications. We were thrilled with the response we received. Here is one of our favourites:

3D printed device enables digital stethoscope capabilities – without a stethoscope!

Bradley James Prince is a medical student, an established entrepreneur and an innovator.  He is currently in his 2nd year of medical school at the University of Calgary, has recently completed his MBA, and is the founder of exDee, a software company that focusses on enabling personal health literacy. In addition to his impressive entrepreneurial accomplishments, Bradly has an inspired vision of what the future could hold for the health care industry.

How does Bradley have time to participate in a 3D print challenge you ask?  On top of an instinctive drive to discover ways to improve patient care, 3D print technology happens to be on his lists of personal interests.  Case in point, Bradley dabbled in the technology when it first came on the scene and created his own 3D printer by printing parts on a 3D printer and assembling them.

Bradley’s 3D print challenge design is a simple yet innovative concept. Using a 3D printed bell and rubber diaphragm (party balloon), an adapter can be fashioned to transform any smartphone into a digital stethoscope.

Stethoscopes are an essential piece of equipment to inform the diagnosis and treatment of countless common conditions. A significant barrier in telemedicine is the ability for the remote care provider to auscultate. A bell-shaped 3D printed device would be used with a smartphone app that would help position the device correctly so the sound can be transmitted from the patient.  Through augmented reality, the app would scan, map and place a digital overlay on the real image. This overlay would be a guide for the patient to place the bell (stethoscope head) on a particular area of the body. The sound would then be transmitted through the smartphone to the care provider to be analyzed or monitored.

In terms of the design, the adapter would be bell-shaped which would amplify the sound. The bell would be open at the bottom (5”) and a top “nipple” with hole (1”) in diameter.

According to Bradley the application of this design does not end here.  “This application could enable additional diagnostic procedures, data collection, analysis and even machine learning technology - the possibilities are endless.” says Bradley.

With the support of organizations like Joule, Bradley sees tremendous opportunities to improve healthcare delivery and advance innovation in the medical field.  He is a perfect example of the type of leaders Joule strives to bring to the forefront and encourage. Each innovation is a unique feat and leap of the imagination – and those that take that leap are true drivers of change.