Ultrasound on a Mobile - Inexpensive, Pervasive, and the Future

Posted by KatrinVerclas on May 04, 2009

Take a low-cost ultrasound probe, a Windows mobile phone, and the skills of two scientists at Washington University in St Louis in the United States, and you get the world's first mobile-phone ultrasound instrument.

USB-based ultrasound probes have been around since 2005, offering a much cheaper and more portable alternative to larger ultrasound machines.  Probes provide increasingly high-quality imaging for a tenth of the cost.  A typical, portable ultrasound device costs around $20,000, while USB probes sell for around $2,000 right now - and the price is declining. Probes are ideally suited for first-responders and for primary care in developing countries, for example. 

The small probes are connected to a phone with a USB cord that have been, typically, connected to a laptop for displaying the images. But carrying around laptops for transmitting images is not an option in many clinics in developing countries for lack of consistent electricity, heat, and lack of Internet access. 

Mobile phones, on the other hand, are ubiquitous, easy to use, and they have the mobile network built in to transmit and retrieve images.  William Richard, Associate Professor, and David Zar Research Associate, both at Washington University in St. Louis have now developed the first, fully integrated USB ultrasound probe. 

As Zar notes, all of the electronics are in the probe itself; all that is needed is the actual probe, a USB cable, and the imaging platform connected with a USB cord -- such as Windows mobile phone. Working under a Microsoft Research grant, the researchers modified probes to work with a smart phone and developed a software development kit (SDK) to allow developers to build fully-custom applications for various mobile platforms.

Additionally, to enable low-cost development of new and customized applications based on these probes, there is a project underway by students at Washington University in St. Louis to create an open-source imaging application, based on this SDK, that works with all of the available low-cost, USB-based ultrasound probes.

The SDK works with Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and includes a fully-functioning laptop/desktop-based Windows XP/Vista application for testing and determining optimal imaging settings.  Additionally, a fully-functioning Windows Mobile sample application in C# with full source code is included. The cell phone SDK will be made available for free under a free-to-use license. The researchers also note that probes are available for a nominal cost to developers. The SDK is available here, and a poster for the project is here.

Below is a video that showcases how the probe on a phone works.


We are looking forward to seeing ultrasound imagining extended to other platforms such as Symbian and Android, and are excited to watch as additional developers and students take on open source imaging on mobile devices as an area of practice.

Meanwhile, this is another exciting example of how mobiles are fundamentally changing the way primary health care could be delivered around the world.

Photo courtesy: Zar and Richards/WUSTL

about ultrasound

mobile phone ultrasound is very nice a new technic in world i like very much>

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br> <b><i><blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options