Tabla device to acoustically diagnose pneumonia

Chest sound waves

November 1, 2017
This article appeared in Berkeley Engineer magazine, Fall 2017

The current clinical gold standard for detecting pneumonia is the chest x-ray, but cost and other barriers can make this method inaccessible to certain patient populations. To provide a convenient and low-cost alternative, student researchers have created a medical device that uses sound waves to diagnose pneumonia. The device, called Tabla, quantifies and charts changes in sound during percussive physical examinations, in which a physician taps the sternum and back and assesses the resulting sounds. Created by Adam Rao, a medical student at UCSF and a student in the UC Berkeley/UCSF joint Ph.D. program in bioengineering, and Chen Bao and Jorge Ruiz, both 2017 M.Eng. graduates in mechanical engineering, Tabla began as a classroom project during the Interactive Device Design course at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation. The project was the top winner in the 2017 Big Ideas at Berkeley competition and was recently named the winner of the student category of Fast Company’s 2017 Innovation by Design Awards.