Designing for Collaborative 

Auscultation Experience

Keeping Distance between Physician and Patients

For this project, we created our own product system: Low Tech, High Touch and High Tech, High Touch. Considering the type of interactions between the users, goals, and tasks, we had to develop a device that has evolved through years from simple mechanical device to a more advanced device - and both accomplish the same task. 

This project forced us to:

- identify, understand, and communicate the design problems

- develop a design research process to help the decisions

- apply appropriate information resources to frame a design problem

- produce and communicate multiple concepts and solutions

- identify critical design criteria to base design decisions


In the beginning of this project, I simply started with generating mind maps to identify the possible areas to find design opportunity. 

I started by listing products that come to my mind when I think of particular area. 

When I was first introduced to this project, I wanted to find and solve the problem of the housewares because it would be the product that I could easily get access to, and easily find problems from my own experience.


However, as I mapped out the possible areas and the products, I thought it would be interesting to focus on the area that I have not enough experience to challenge myself as a designer. 


Stethoscope is a medical device that is used by every physicians to listen to chest sounds, heart beats, blood flow noises, and bowel sound. It went through many changes over 200 in its form and material – from paper to wood to plastic to metal. Before the stethoscope was first invented, physicians had to place their ears directly on patient’s body to listen to them. In 1816, the first stethoscope was invented by a French doctor, who used a rolled sheet of paper to listen to young female patients to avoid direct contact.


Although it was designed to avoid contact between physician and patient, physicians still have to make physical contact with patients when they are checking the patient’s body sounds using stethoscope. 

Not only that, many physicians have problem with the form and material of the stethoscope. For example, the shape and material of the ear-tips cause ear inflammation. 

Design Opportunity

Improve the experiences of both physicians and patients by designing a product that would reduce the physical contact between physicians and patients, with modified form.


User Journey Maps

Before I started conducting in-depth research, I created concept diagram and user journey maps to better understand the overall experience of patient going to hospital and physician using stethoscope. 


I interviewed three physicians to gain the insights on the problem they have with the stethoscope.


From the interviews, I was able to list possible problems that could be solved. 

The most important problem is that the shape of the ear-tip causes an ear inflammation. Since stethoscope is a medical device that physicians use multiple times everyday, it is important for stethoscope to provide user safe and comfortable experience.  

Possible solutions:

- Personalized ear-tips that fit to user's ears perfectly

- User could easily remove the ear-tips from the 

  stethoscope, and able to use it without ear-tips

Since physicians are the ones that interact with the stethoscope, the contact with patients is inevitable. However, many patients avoid contact with physicians, which makes uncomfortable experience for both physicians and patients. 

Possible solution:

- Collaborative auscultation experience – physician and

  patient use stethoscope collaboratively to minimize

  physical contact

Stethoscope is a symbol of physicians; stethoscope on the shoulder of the physician is the image that comes when we think of them. 

Possible solution:

- Minimize the design changes 

Low Tech Prototype Developments

Before I started developing concepts, I made a quick stethoscope to experience the problems that physicians have.

Prototype 1

To solve the problem of weak connecting part, I created one ear-tip stethoscope, which is similar to the first invented stethoscope.


Although it would not deliver sound as clear as the existing stethoscope with two ear-tips, physicians would still be able to listen to body sounds accurately and find health problems using different medical devices. 

Prototype 2 & 3

Keeping the idea of one ear-tip stethoscope, I made a prototype with different shaped ear-tip and chestpiece. 

I tried changing the shape of the chestpiece to amplify the sound, but it was scientifically impossible to amplify the sound that travels through PVC tubing. Larger chestpiece would enhance the collaborative auscultation experience; both physician and patient could hold the chestpiece at the same time.


I also tried making the length of the tubing adjustable, so that physician could keep the distance from patient. However, it was difficult to adjust the length because two PVC tubings were trapped too tight to each other. 

Prototype 4

As I was testing the one ear-tip prototypes, I noticed that physician has to cover one ear to focus on hearing the sound from the stethoscope. 

From the findings from the previous prototypes, I made another prototype with two ear-tips. The original stethoscope has a problem of weak connecting part where ear tubes and PVC tubing are connected; to solve this problem, I moved the connecting part to the side, so the user does not apply tension to it when they are wearing it. 

Prototype 5

Developing the ideas from the prototype 4, I came up with another 3D printed prototype. This prototype has two

ear-tips which can be easily removed when physician does not want it, but they can still use the stethoscope since the ear cups isolates the sound. Not only that, the length of chestpiece is adjustable.   

Final Low Tech Stethoscope


Part where physician holds to guide the patient where to place the chestpiece

Part where patient holds to place chestpiece on their body for physician to hear their body sounds

Ear tip

Covers the ear to help physician focus on hearing the body sounds

Removable ear-tip; physician could use it without the ear-tips because the ear cup isolates the sound

Physical Model


High Tech Concept Development


Before I started generating ideas for high tech,

I researched to find existing products in the stethoscope market.

From looking at existing products, I was able to see that there many stethoscopes that enable patients to check their own health condition at home


To differentiate my product from existing products,

I wanted to make it wearable that users could carry around with them and use it anywhere, anytime. 


After listing possible wearables, I chose to design a stethoscope watch that users could wear everyday.

After deciding to make a stethoscope watch, I sketched different forms and interactions. Since the watch is a product that sits on user’s wrist and has the size limitation, I tried to come up with effective interaction and shapes while keeping it small. 

Target User

Babies and their mothers are the target users for the high-tech stethoscope watch. Mothers have difficulty checking the sound of their babies because babies avoid using new devices. 


However, if they see their mother wearing the device everyday, they would not be afraid of it. Also, the sound of their body coming from the speaker of the stethoscope can be educational and enjoyable

Final High Tech Stethoscope 

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