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Learn more about the the winners of the #IBM 2012 Award at #BTYSTE January 17, 2012

Posted by Kristina O'Regan in Data, Intelligence.

Presentation Secondary School, Thurles students receiving IBM Award at BT Young Scientist 2012

The  IBM Award is given to a project that best exemplifies making intelligent use of data collected from the real world. Our world is becoming increasingly instrumented and interconnected, with the result that we can collect data from sources never before possible. But all this information only truly becomes interesting as it is used to unlock creative insights, make decisions, or automate processes, and when it is made available through open standards for further use by other systems.  This award recognises the project, from any category, which best exemplifies collecting data from some aspect of the physical world and using technology to turn that data into intelligence that can be actioned – making some aspect of our world “smarter”.

Emma Murphy and Catherine Harty, IBM Award Winners

Emma Murphy, Catherine Harty and Ana O’Brien from Presentation Secondary School in Thurles Tipperary won the IBM Award with their technology project “Database of Horses Heart Sounds”.  I spoke to them about their project and how they were inspired to create a database which holds a library of sound recordings of  horse heart abnormalities and various heart conditions.   Vets or people working with horses can then use the database, via a smartphone app, to compare their horses heartbeat with various heart abnormality and conditions stored on the database.    They can easily compare the horse’s heart sound recordings and visual sound waves with those on the database to assist in a preliminary diagnosis before investing time and money in getting an EKG. The database initially holds a few heart condition recordings but they hope to develop it to hold, not only all horse heart sounds, but other animals too.

The Inspiration

The girls are horse owners themselves and were intrigued to discover that 85 percent of thoroughbred horses have heart abnormalities/diseases. They wanted to learn more about this and through their research they discovered that there are not many databases available online for diagnosis of these horse abnormalities and conditions. They did find one that was for educational purposes.

The Technology

The students set out to develop a database that would be easy to use and they contacted an Equine Cardiologist who advised them to use a Thinklabs Rhythm Digital Electronic Stethoscope and Olympus VN8000 PC Recorder. The amplifier on the stethoscope was not clear enough to hear the sounds so the students uploaded the recording to a sound editor called Audacity (which is used for hearts and compatible with this ThinkLabs stethoscope. This sound editor enables you to see a sound wave graph for visual comparison as well as listen to it.

The students uploaded all the heart sound abnormalities and conditions to their database and developed an app for smartphones where people can upload their horse’s heart sound so they can compare visually and by sound against the various abnormalities/diseases in their database.  There is also a smartphone compatible stethoscope that people can get from Thinklabs to use with this programme.

Emma, Catherine and Ana are still working to develop their idea further and have already registered with the patent office.

Find out more about the technology by visiting these links:

Thinklabs Stethoscope->


To explain the project watch this video:



1. bodonovan - January 17, 2012

Well done Emma and Catherine, this looks like a great project

2. c penny - January 17, 2012

Congratulations Emma and Catherine a fantastic project!

3. kennedydee - January 17, 2012

Congratulations once again girls, it really is a terrific project, we’re delighted it was selected for the IBM Special Award. Best of luck with developing it further,

4. [xpost] My personal highlights from the BTYSTE exhibition « Come see IBM Ireland at BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition - January 24, 2012

[…] The winners of the IBM award were two students from Tipperary who had developed a database of recordings of health and diseased horse hearts. They combined their database with an existing pattern recognition system so that vets can now submit a sample heartbeat recording from one of the horses under care and the application will tell them what heart disease (if any) the horse is suffering from. Read more about their project here. […]

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