Cardiology as a field has seen phenomenal technological advances over the last few decades. A number of tools in cardiology however require sensors and/or electrodes on the human body to capture the cardiac signals and diagnose patients. In this project, we aim to create medical tools that use smartphones and smart speakers to contactlessly detect cardiac conditions. We present a proof-of-concept system for acquiring individual heart beats using smart speakers in a fully contact-free manner. Our algorithms transform the smart speaker into a short-range active sonar system and measure heart rate and inter-beat intervals (R-R intervals) for both regular and irregular rhythms. The smart speaker emits inaudible 18–22 kHz sound and receives echoes reflected from the human body that encode sub-mm displacements due to heart beats. We conducted a clinical study with both healthy participants and hospitalized cardiac patients with diverse structural and arrhythmic cardiac abnormalities including atrial fibrillation, flutter and congestive heart failure. Compared to electrocardiogram (ECG) data, our system computed R-R intervals for healthy participants with a median error of 28 ms over 12,280 heart beats and a correlation coefficient of 0.929. For hospitalized cardiac patients, the median error was 30 ms over 5639 heart beats with a correlation coefficient of 0.901. The increasing adoption of smart speakers in hospitals and homes may provide a means to realize the potential of our non-contact cardiac rhythm monitoring system for monitoring of contagious or quarantined patients, skin sensitive patients and in telemedicine.

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