“Ultrasound on a Chip” Sounds Promising

A new medical startup unveiled a multi-use tool that links up to an iPhone and has FDA clearance for 13 clinical applications.

Butterfly iQ / Image: Butterfly Network
Butterfly iQ / Image: Butterfly Network

We’ve covered a variety of “...on a Chip” headlines in the past few months, but the latest member of the club has ambitions of becoming a household consumer product as ubiquitous as a thermometer. A recent IEEE Spectrum article discussed the Butterfly iQ from Butterfly Network, a relatively inexpensive handheld ultrasound tool with AI capabilities. The device has already received FDA clearance on 13 clinical applications including cardiac scans, fetal and obstetric exams, and musculoskeletal checks.

The device doesn’t have controls or a display, but rather links with an iPhone for use. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the product is its artificial intelligence. Butterfly engineers trained the software to decipher between a high- and poor-quality images for body parts like the heart, meaning when you bring the device to a patient’s chest for a cardiac exam, the iPhone display can help find the right spot. Butterfly aims to start shipping units next year at an introductory price of $2,000.

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