For as low as $10, a microchip has been developed that can give 3D imaging abilities to ultrasound machines. This microchip makes use of the same technology as the one that is used in smartphones to track how they are oriented. Engineers and doctors from Duke and Stanford universities have demonstrated their devices on the 31st of October at the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) Research Forum in Washington, D.C. Just as a Nintendo Wii video game controller, the chip registers the probe’s orientation, and then makes use of the software to stitch together in three dimensions hundreds of individual slices of the anatomy. This results in an instant 3-D model similar in quality to a MRI or CT scan, as stated by M.D Joshua Broder, the emergency physician and associate professor of surgery at Duke Health and also one of the creators of this technology.
Two-D ultrasound machines that have higher resolutions have clearer 3-D images. Broder said that, with 2-D images you can get a visual slice of the organ, but without any context, one can make mistakes too. The added orientation and holistic context of 3-D technology can be a solution to these problems. The doctors and engineers felt that the best solution to this would be gaining that ability at an incredibly low cost and then upgrading the existing machines.
Inspired from Nintendo Wii Gaming System to Use Duct Tape on Controller to Ultrasound Probe
Broder said that he had this thought in 2014, while he and his son were playing with the with a Nintendo Wii gaming system. By looking at the gaming console’s ability to accurately track and monitor the exact position of the controller, he thought of duct taping the controller to an ultrasound probe.
After working on it on his own for a year, he took sketches to Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, connecting with the then-undergraduate Matt Morgan, and biomedical engineering instructors and professors Carl Herickhoff and Jeremy Dahl, who continue to take positions at Stanford where they continue to make the device.