In the past, it’s impossible to combine the medical and technology fields together. However, thanks to the advent technology, most of the impossible mission becoming possible, especially in this bizarre 21st century!
The concept, “Cell Phone as a Platform for Healthcare” had been worked out since few decades ago. However, due to the lack of technology, it has been postponed for a very long time.
Today, a group of talented computer engineers from the Washington University in St. Louis are invented the minimalist approach to medical care and computing. They’d successfully combined the USB-based ultrasound probe technology with a smartphone, which is enabling a compact, mobile computational platform and a medical imaging device that is only the size of a palm!
The fantastic duo, William D. Richard, PhD. WUSTL associate professor of computer science and engineering and David Zar, Richard’s colleague have made commercial USB ultrasound probes that compatible with Microsoft Windows mobile-based smartphones.
For enabling the commercial USB ultrasound probes work with smartphones, the duo had to figure out the way to optimize every aspect of probe design and operation. They need to overcome those consequences that might happen, from power consumption and data transfer rate to image formation algorithms.
With the new USB ultrasound probes, it’s possible to build smartphone compatible USB ultrasound probes, especially for imaging/scanning the kidney, liver, bladder, eyes, prostate, uterine, vascular, veins and arteries!
“Believe it or not, you can carry a probe and cell phone image to everywhere you want,” Said Richard.
The USB ultrasound imaging can be easily applied in all the ambulances and emergency rooms. The smartphones is running in Windows System, which is compatible with most of the cell phone SDKs!
Maybe it would become the essential computer of the 3rd world countries, where medical trainers are very scarce. In this case, they will have the access to a medical healthcare with only a simple touch on the smartphones!
Furthermore, Richard said that the smartphone would be a popular device in the military, as it can quickly diagnose how bad the situation of a wounded soldier was during the battlefield!
According to Richard, there is more than 70 percent of the world’s population absolutely has no direct access to medical imaging! As a result, it’s impossible for them to take an MRI or CT scanner, especially in the rural area that has no power supply.
Thus, by developing this USB ultrasound imaging, it’s a new breakthrough for the people from all around the world to use the application.
Richard colleagues, David Zar said that they have a main vision of the new system. They have to make sure that the people in remote areas are well-trained with the basics of gathering data with the phones, so that the users can identify and analyze the image and make a diagnosis based on the imaging.
In this case, Zar had written the phone software and firmware for the probes, while Richard came up with low-power probe electronics design! They hoped to minimize the building cost, from the original $30,000 to as low as $500 per device, or even lower than it did!
The amazing duo has discussed a potential collaboration with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and it’s mainly about integrating their probe-smartphone concept into a suite of field. By the way, the trial for medical application had been carried out in several developing countries. [source]