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Freeplay Fetal Heart Rate Monitor

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This Global Health Medical Device is designed for or implemented within resource-limited settings - Browse the devices - Add a device

Health Topic Child mortality
Classification Diagnosis
Scope Commercialized
Location Africa, Asia, South America

Problem being addressed[edit]

Newborn mortality accounts for over half of all infant deaths. In developing countries, where giving birth at home is common, there may be a lack of electricity to support delivery. Hand cranked heart rate monitors are more suitable for rural settings than expensive Western-derived equipment which can be difficult to repair and often rely on replaceable batteries. Discovering lowered heart rate during contractions gives medical workers a chance to suspend delivery, try to get more sophisticated medical assistance, and protect the well being of the mother and infant.

Detailed description of the solution[edit]

This device measures the infant’s heart rate during birth. The design includes an obstetrics ultrasound device connected to the main unit by a cord. It also contains a power-management electronic module, a sound amplifier and a crank for winding up the device. This robust design is meant to withstand wear and tear. Cranking its onboard power-supply charger for one minute provides 10 minutes of operation.

Designed by[edit]

  • Designed by: Philip Goodwin (industrial designer), Stefan Zwahlen (electronics designer) and John Hutchinson (project leader) in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Manufacturing: This device is manufactured by Ultrasound Technologies Ltd in Caldicot, South Wales, United Kingdom. Website available here.

When and where it was tested/implemented[edit]

This device was tested in South Africa and is now available on the market.


Peer-reviewed publication[edit]

Woods, D. (2009). Appropriate technology and education for improved intrapartum care in under-resourced countries. South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 15(3), 78-79.

(Author unknown). (2009). Freeplay Fetal Heart rate monitor a winner. South African Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 15(3), 77-77.

Other internally generated reports[edit]

Datasheet for the Fetal Heart Rate Monitor. PDF available here.

Fetal Heart Monitor. Freeplay. Link available here.

Externally generated reports[edit]

Fetal Heart Rate Monitor. Mandate: Maternal and Neonatal Directed Assessment of Technology. PDF available here.

Fetal Heart Rate Monitor by Philip Goodwin, Stefan Zwahlen and John Hutchinson. DesignBoom. Link available here.

Freeplay grid-free, crank-powered fetal Monitor. Maternova. Link available here.

Hand-cranked fetal monitor by Freeplay. Maternova. Link available here.

Index: Design to Improve Life. Link available here.