Butterfly iQ: An iPhone-powered Portable Cancer Detector


Technology is the ruler of the world today. The world is grabbed by the clasp of technological advancements and inventions and developments in science. These developments are extremely rapid with something or the other being found or invented or innovated on a regular basis. One of the recent invention is in the field of medicine, precisely, in the field of oncology. Cancer detection from an iPhone is the newest breakthrough technology.


A portable ultrasound machine for cancer detection has been developed by a Connecticut-based start-up known as Butterfly Network. This device is known as Butterfly IQ. It can help to easily detect cancer inside one’s home itself. The device is the size of an electric razor. It has to be paired with an iPhone. While using the scanning device, it can display black and white imagery of the body on the screen of the connected iPhone.


According to the website for Butterfly iQ, the device sells for under $2,000. According to health industry website Modern Healthcare, the average price for ultrasound systems is $115,000, with low-end systems costing $25,000.
The device is aimed at healthcare practitioners and facilities in the U.S. licensed to perform ultrasounds. It ships in early 2018, and works with iPhone models as far back as the iPhone SE.


Most of the technology is set within a microchip. This is the major reason for the device being much cheaper than the traditional ultra sound machines.


Earlier this year, John Martin, the chief medical officer for Butterfly Network was testing out the iPhone compatible Butterfly iQ. He ran the probe through the surface of his own neck and found the imagery of his throat on the connected smartphone. A 3cm mass of tumour was detected. It was diagnosed as squamous cell cancer. It is a form of skin cancer which develops in the cells of the outer layer of the skin.
Martin said that it was while waiting for biopsy results to return on his mass and waiting for radiation therapy, he considered how valuable time is when treating patients.
Martin said, “The sooner we make a diagnosis, the sooner we start treatment. The secret behind our device is we’re conquering time.”


Usually, the sound waves are generated by a vibrating crystal. But Butterfly’s machine instead uses 9,000 tiny drums etched onto a semiconductor chip, reported the MIT Technology Review.
Instead of vibrating crystals, Butterfly IQ uses capacitive micro-machined ultrasound transducers, or CMUTs. These are tiny ultrasonic emitters layered on a semiconductor chip. They are a little larger than a postage stamp.


The company now planning on combining the device with Artificial Intelligence software. This could help a novice person to position the probe, collect the right images and interpret them. The MIT report also stated that by 2018, its software will let users automatically calculate how much blood a heart is pumping, or detect problems like aortic aneurisms.


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