Updated on October 27, 2023


Created on August 27, 2015

Freeplay FHRM

Upcoming Update

A low-cost fetal heart rate monitoring system that does not require electricity

Developed By Unknown
Tested By
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Content Partners


Product Description

The Freeplay Fetal Heart Rate Monitor (FHRM) is a portable, hand-held, and hand-crank-powered fetal diagnostic device for identifying fetal distress throughout the birthing process. The hand-crank design enables this FHRM to be used in settings without reliable or any electricity. A minute of cranking provides the FHRM with 10 minutes of power.

Target Regions

Africa, Australia-New Zealand Region, Central America, Central Asia, East Asia, East Asia and Pacific, Europe, South America

Target SDGs

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Market Suggested Retail Price


Target Users (Target Impact Group)

Community, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Distributors / Implementing Organizations

Manufactured and distributed by Ultrasound Technologies Ltd via regional distributors in Europe, Africa, South and Central America, Asia, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Competitive Landscape

Manufacturing/Building Method

Units are batch built and held in stock for future orders. Interview with representative in 2018

Intellectural Property Type

Trade Secret

User Provision Model

Units may be purchased from distributors in respective countries. Interview with representative in 2018

Distributions to Date Status

532 units have been deployed as of July 2015 Interview with representative in 2018

Power Supply Type

Manual or 100-260 VAC mains power


Non-mineral oil based ultrasound gel or water

Indispensable equipment for function (Y/N)


Maintenance or calibration required by user at time of use?


Display Type

LCD Display with icon for battery low and pulse. Charge indicator.

Gestation Required for Heart Rate Detection (weeks)


Material of Construction


Design Specifications

The FreePlay FHRM includes a probe that uses Doppler ultrasound waves to detect the fetal heart. It runs off rechargeable batteries that are inside the device. The batteries may be recharged from three different power sources: mains electricity; manual, wind-up power and solar energy. The fetal heart can be “heard” on the loudspeaker while the fetal heart rate is shown on the display screen. The fetal monitor is most useful in assessing the condition of the fetus during labour. The unit features an On/Off Button, LED display screen, flashing heart icon to indicate each heartbeat, loudspeaker, wind-up handle, indicator light that shows power is being generated, connecting lead from monitor to probe, ultrasound probe, and a mains adaptor, power cable, and DC input socket. Weight is <600 grams.

Product Schematics

Technical Support

Ultrasound Technologies Ltd staff and reselling partners provide support Interview with representative in 2018

Replacement Components

Replacement pieces are available from the original supplier or if user contacts PET (Powerful Education Technology) via info@pet.org.za


A 3-year is included with FHRM purchase. Interview with representative in 2018

Manufacturer Specified Performance Parameters

• No disposable batteries or power supply required: hand-cranking the charger for 1 minute provides 10 minutes worth of operation. • It takes approximately 2 hours to fully charge the built-in rechargeable batteries. The fetal monitor will operate for ~7 hours continuously before the batteries need recharging again.

Vetted Performance Status

Through a randomized controlled study in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, it was demonstrated that FHRM provides better perinatal outcomes in comparison to a fetal stethoscope. Additionally, when evaluating the usability perceptions of midwives, they found barriers for the adoption of this technology, like insufficient training, convenience of use, comfort and limited privacy.


Must not be used on a patient when connected to the main supply.

Complementary Technical Systems


Academic Research and References

This paper presents a comparison between the Pinard stethoscope versus the Freeplay FHRM  in the detection of abnormal FHR:

Kamala, B. A., Kidanto, H., 2018, Intrapartum fetal heart rate monitoring using a handheld Doppler versus Pinard stethoscope: a randomized controlled study in Dar es Salaam, International journal of women’s health, Vol. 10, pp. 341–348.

Mdoe, P. F., Mbekenga, C., 2018, Midwives’ perceptions on using a fetoscope and Doppler for fetal heart rate assessments during labor: a qualitative study in rural Tanzania, BMC pregnancy and childbirth, Vol. 18(1), pp. 103.

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

Lawn J., 2006, Does fetal heart rate count? Developing a low cost, alternative powered doppler fetal heart monitor for use in low resource high mortality settings, The 4th Institution of Engineering and Technology Seminar on Appropriate Healthcare Technologies for Developing Countries, pp. 155-161.

Compliance with regulations

The FHRM complies with the essential requirements of the European Council Directive 93/42/EEC + 2007/47/EC. Safety Classification: Class 1 Type B - IEC 60601-1

Evaluation methods

Field testing was conducted in South Africa by the design team. Usability tests and trials to find associations between usage and the detection of abnormal fetal heart rates were conducted in Tanzania.

Other Information

Distributed through Ultrasound Technologies Ltd via regional distributors http://www.doppler.co.uk/Purchase/Distributors.html

Leave a Reply

Explore similar solutions


October 30, 2023

Heartstrings for fetal heart tones

Read Solution

Implemented by



December 19, 2023


Read Solution

Implemented by

South African Medical Research Council and the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research


October 30, 2023

Moyo Fetal Heart Rate Monitor

Read Solution

Implemented by

Laerdal Global Health


October 27, 2023

Butterfly iQ

Read Solution

Implemented by

Butterfly iQ


November 3, 2023

Bempu TempWatch

Read Solution

Implemented by

Bempu Health


November 10, 2023

Embrace Infant Warmer

Read Solution

Implemented by

Embrace Innovations


December 19, 2023

MakaPads Sanitary Pads

Read Solution

Implemented by



March 9, 2024


Read Solution

Implemented by



October 30, 2023

Odon Device

Read Solution

Implemented by

Jorge Odón


November 9, 2023


Read Solution

Implemented by


All Solutions

Contribute to E4C's Library of Breakthrough Sustainable Development Technology Solutions

Suggest A Solution

Get more information about Solutions Library and its features.

Learn More

Have thoughts on how we can improve?

Give Us Feedback

Join a global community of changemakers.

Become A Member