The Butterfly iQ, a small, handheld ultrasound scanner that connects to your smartphone, is now being used by physicians to conduct obstetric, lung, and cardiac imaging procedures.
There are several aspects that set the Butterfly iQ apart from traditional scanners. Instead of using piezo crystals, the material commonly used to create ultrasonic waves, the device incorporates a single silicon chip that generates ultrasound waves that flow through the body. This technology significantly reduces the price and can be purchased for $2,000.
The silicon chip was invented by Jonathan Rothberg, PhD, who has founded multiple medical-focused life science companies. Creating the Butterfly iQ was a five-year process and received Food and Drug Administration approval in October 2017. Its corresponding app enables physicians to virtually store and share images through HIPAA-approved features. The app’s built-in artificial intelligence software also indicates whether or not they’re capturing good quality images.
With the device, users can even remotely review and direct others through the scanning process, which means clinics without adequate imaging resources can be expertly guided while using the device. So far, Butterfly iQ has been used to teach healthcare practitioners in Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya and is hoping to be granted global regulatory approval in order to expand its access.