Universities everywhere would do well to utilize Disruptive Women’s December Man of the Month Connor Landgraf in marketing campaigns, making the point that a single moment in a classroom can change the world. Landgraf, at age 26, is the co-founder and CEO of Eko Devices, a start-up he created with two fellow graduates of the University of California, Berkeley. Eko’s first product, the Eko Core, was named by TIME Magazine as one of 2015’s top inventions and he and his colleagues were selected by Forbes for its “30 Under 30” list of the brightest young stars in 15 different fields of endeavor.
For Landgraf, then a biomedical engineering major at Berkeley, this success began in a senior design class featuring guest speakers sharing perspectives on medical technology. A discussion about the limited utility of the stethoscope and the difficulty of using heart sounds to detect cardiac abnormalities inspired Landgraf to bring 21st century digital capabilities to a health care tool that has remained largely unchanged since the early 1800s.
It’s not an overstatement in the least to call the Eko Core transformative. It is a digital device that attaches to the traditional stethoscope and radically expands its efficacy. With the Core, it is possible for the health care professional to amplify heart sounds, record them and, via a smartphone app, wirelessly transmit them. A leading physician at Stanford pointed out to the New York Times that this technology will improve clinicians’ ability to hear a patient’s heart rhythm and to store those sounds in an electronic record so that changes in an individual’s heartbeat can be compared over time.
And by connecting to the Internet, that heartbeat can be shared instantly (even livestreamed) with consulting physicians anywhere in the world. The device is already being utilized at several of the nation’s most respected health care facilities, including the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School.
The Eko Core is just the first act for Landgraf and his colleagues in what promises to be a sustained career in breakthrough innovation. Already, they are collaborating with the company that developed Shazam – the smartphone technology that can immediately identify a song playing in a room – to develop “Shazam for Heartbeats,” an algorithm that promises to take cardiology decision support technology to a new level.
And anyone would be foolish to doubt the vision of someone who saw a way to revolutionize a healthcare icon that had stood the test of time for two centuries.