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Student-designed Medical Device Wins Innovation Award

Doctor using tabla device

A student-designed medical device to diagnose pneumonia has been named the winner of the student category of Fast Company‘s 2017 Innovation by Design Awards.

The device, called Tabla, was 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 Berkeley graduates in mechanical engineering. The Fast Company awards honor the best design ideas across 14 fields, with winners selected from 2,500 entries.

Tabla is a low-cost medical device that uses sound waves to diagnose pneumonia. 

While the current clinical gold standard for detecting pneumonia is the chest x-ray, cost and other barriers can limit access to this method. Percussive physical examinations — in which a physician taps the sternum and back, assessing the resulting sounds — provide a convenient, low-cost alternative for patient diagnosis. Tabla is designed to easily integrate with percussive physical examinations by quantifying and charting changes in sound.

Tabla was a classroom project created as part of Interactive Device Design, a course taught by Bjoern Hartmann, faculty director of Berkeley’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, and mechanical engineering professor Paul Wright. The project was further developed as part of the 2017 Big Ideas at Berkeley competition.

Student-designed Medical Device Wins Fast Company Award was originally published on the University of California Berkeley website.