John Martin, a vascular surgeon, was feeling some discomfort in his throat one day. So he decided to solve his own problem by trying out a small, ultrasound device created by Butterfly Network, where he works as chief medical officer. He ran the probe across his neck and discovered that he might have cancer.
The Connecticut-based company made the pocket-sized device as the first solid-state ultrasound machine to reach shelves in the United States, Digital Trends reported. When Martin used the Butterfly iQ, a hand-held imaging machine for ultrasounds that can be hooked up to the iPhone, he found out that he had squamous-cell carcinoma.
The Butterfly iQ is made in a semiconductor manufacturing facility, so the technology is cheaper and more versatile. It uses capacitive micro-machined ultrasound transducers (CMUTs), which are tiny ultrasonic emitters put on a semiconductor chip.
Now we think it’s an individual purchase. This gives you the ability to do everything at the bedside: you can pull it out of your pocket and scan the whole body.
The tag price on ultrasound systems averages around $115,000. Low-end systems can go for as low as $25,000. The Butterfly iQ, on the other hand, will retail for less than $2,000. It’s so much cheaper than the regular ultrasound system because most of the technology involved is placed inside a microchip.
The Butterfly Network has announced that the devices will go on sale this year and will begin shipping early next year.
Martin believes that this device can take on other forms in the future, like a patch that patients can take home. “To look at this as just an ultrasound device is like looking at an iPhone and saying it’s just a phone,” he said. “If you have a window into the body where anyone can afford it, everyone can use it, and everyone can interpret it, it becomes a heck of a lot more than an ultrasound device.”
Jonathan Rothberg is the entrepreneur behind the Butterfly Network, which he formed in 2011. It has taken Rothberg just eight years to go from concept to market with regards to this portable ultrasound device.