General, Research, Technology

Developed the most portable and cheapest ultrasound machine

Surely each of us at least once in his life didUltrasound and knows what the setup looks like for this examination. Even the smallest devices, called "portable", are about the same size as CRT monitors from the mid-90s. However, thanks to the efforts of scientists at Butterfly Network, ultrasound machines will soon be available that will easily fit in your jacket’s pocket, while still having all the advantages of a “big brother”. And what is most interesting, in addition to the innovative filling, which made it possible to achieve such a small size, such devices will cost several times cheaper than any analogues that currently exist.

Unlike traditional ultrasound machines,the development of experts from Butterfly Network called iQ is similar in size to the sensor from the usual ultrasound machine (or, if you want, to an electric shaver). Traditional ultrasound machines use devices with quartz crystals, passing through which an electric current causes them to vibrate and emit ultrasonic waves passing through human tissue. Reflecting differently from different anatomical structures, the waves come back, which is detected by the sensor. Changes are converted into an electrical impulse and projected on the screen in the form of a familiar image.

Portable Ultrasound Machine from Butterfly Networkinstead of quartz, it has in its design capacitive ultrasonic transducers - metal plates sandwiched between two electrodes that are integrated directly into the device’s chip. About 9000 such structures are placed on one chip, which can send and receive sound waves and convert them into three-dimensional images. But this is not all: despite the quite good chip performance (1/2 trillion operations per second), the device has a built-in neural network based on artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Any smartphone or tablet can be used as a “screen” of the device. The survey results are sent to the cloud storage, which can be accessed by any specialist from anywhere in the world.

The cost of the device at the moment is2000 US dollars, which is very, very cheap in comparison with conventional devices, the price of which ranges from 15 000 to 100 000 US dollars. But most importantly, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has already issued permission to use iQ for medical purposes, including urology, gynecology, examination of the heart, blood vessels, muscle tissue and bone structures. According to one of the leaders of Butterfly Network, a portable ultrasound probe will be extremely easy to use:

“The first users of the device, of course,there will be doctors and paramedics with the necessary qualifications in the use of ultrasound. But over time, everyone will be able to use the device: from a paramedic who has never used an ultrasound, to a nurse and a doctor. ”