international space station

From Afar

Over 200 miles above, people live and work on the International Space Station. And in 2011, a new kind of stethoscope heard their hearts beat. From Earth.

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Dr. Shin Yamada, Senior Research Engineer, Space Missions Division, JAXA

Hear Here

The Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, used the 3M™ Littmann ® Scope-to-Scope Tele-Auscultation System in telemedicine experiments with an astronaut on the International Space Station. In ground control, a doctor listened to the astronaut’s heart beat, and it sounded exactly the same as if they had met in person.

Dr. Shin Yamada

Senior Research Engineer, Space Missions Division, JAXA

“As astronauts get further and further away from Earth, they won’t be able to simply make the trip back when there’s a problem. […] That means it’s going to be necessary for astronauts to maintain their health on their own.”

- Dr. Shin Yamada

satellite on earth

Mission Success

The JAXA experiment tested whether an astronaut could perform an accurate stethoscope self-diagnosis in the low-gravity, noisy space station environment - and whether the data it collected could also be analysed on Earth by a specialist. It worked. And the success of this test may help remove one of the many barriers to future space exploration.

3M Littmann stethoscope used in International Space Station
Bluetooth logo

How it Works

You need two of these special stethoscopes and a Bluetooth connection to the software. The first picks up the patient’s heart and other body sounds (while cancelling out distracting ambient noise) and transmits the right sounds to the other one across the city, the world or even orbiting in space.

Click to hear the heartbeat.
3M Littmann stethoscope used in International Space Station earth-side image

The New House Call

Back on Earth, Dr. Todd Czartoski uses this Littmann stethoscope to help stroke victims in Washington state. In a territory hundreds of miles wide, it’s not always possible for a patient to see a specialist in time. But the Littmann stethoscope offers new hope: immediate, accurate medical diagnoses from virtually anywhere.

Multiple stethoscopes
“For acute stroke, you have only a few hours in which you can give appropriate therapy. This kind of technology helps us deliver treatment within that brief window.”

- Dr. Todd Czartoski

Medical Director of Hospital Neurology and Teleneurology,
Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle

ear listening to stethoscope

The Next Small Step

While the prospect of future space exploration is exciting, it was never the focus for 3M’s Craig Oster and his team, who developed this stethoscope. Their goal is to innovate technologies that build on doctors’ training to extend the reach and accuracy of their diagnoses: from noisy environments like ambulances and A&E rooms to situations where doctors and patients are separated by distance or time.

Craig Oster Senior Technical Manager, 3M Health Care
“We’re making meaningful products that will help save people’s lives. . And we’re proud of that.”

- Craig Oster

Senior Technical Manager, 3M Health Care

This device is intended to be used by Health Care Professionals.