Ultrasound image processing equipment that is used in hospitals and clinics is expensive. The cost of this type of machinery increases the medical costs already associated with prenatal care. This makes it prohibitive for many pregnant women to access this type of testing and diagnostics. The BearPaw team from BYU designed a cloud-based image processing solution, which couples with a tablet computer and USB ultrasound devices to dramatically reduce the cost of capturing – and processing – ultrasound images.
I met with this team when I helped to judge the recent Imagine Cup USA finals. This competition allows students to create real-world software and services applications which make use of Microsoft tools and technology. The winner received an automatic bid to compete at the Worldwide finals later this year.
The Mobile Ultrasound is a solution which uses the Cloud to not only process the images, it also allows input of real patient information and the gives the ability to upload to a server for future processing and retrieval.
This type of testing is not only done on pregnant women to detect fetal complications. It’s also used to diagnose kidney stones, appendicits and many other human body issues and defects. It’s a simple matter to plug the device in to a USB port and grab the information quickly. It gets rid of the traditional – and expensive – parts which cuts way down on the costs.
Doctors will be able to retrieve this information at any point in time, no matter where they may be. As long as they have an Internet connection, they could receive the video file and images. The images are saved in a .JPG format so that they can be viewed even on a mobile device. It doesn’t matter where a doctor happens to be – or what device he uses to access the Internet – he or she will be able to have the needed information at their fingertips instantly.
As a prototype, this device was made for just over two thousand dollars. The traditional big systems cost well over a hundred thousand bucks, people. Just one of these devices will save so much money that doctors and hospitals won’t know what to do with it all.
Great work to the team at BearPaw, and good luck to all of you in the future.