A little over a month ago I interviewed with a small start-up company in Los Angeles doing some very cool work on a serious game for military and medical usage. Essentially it is an ultrasound simulation game that teaches medical personnel how to read an ultrasound image.
This particular company had a unique twist on their product which I cannot go in to here but I can mention that it ran on a laptop, which got me to thinking: Why a laptop? Why a separate training simulator? Why all of these extra parts for something so simple? Why not something so portable you can put it on your hip or in your pocket? I talked with one of the interviewers a little later, a medical Doctor, and he mentioned these ultra-portable devices are on the horizon, it’s just a matter of time, it will be five years before they are on the market and as ubiquitous as a stethoscope or thermometer in a decade.
Yeah… Too long for my tastes. How about a couple of weeks of work tinkering in the den?
I know other companies are out there experimenting with ultrasound systems that run on a cell phone that use standard ultrasound wands from established companies, and that there is also the new dedicated handheld ultrasound devices from the likes of GE or Siemens. But that got me to thinking…
Why not design my own? It can’t be that hard, can it?
After about two weeks of investigation and fiddling and poking around with various algorithms to interpret the data received from a standard ultrasound transducer (I cannot believe some companies have the balls to sell these things for over a thousand bucks, the whole thing consists of little more than fifty dollars worth of off-the-shelf parts in a plastic housing), it’s been possible to create an ultrasound imaging system for iPad and iPod Touch. Ultrasound device. Fifty bucks worth of parts. Off-the-shelf. On the iPhone, iPad and iPod.
Combining a training simulator serious game and an actual ultrasound wand with a simple piece of software for iPod Touch, all told, less than four hundred dollars for a fully portable ultrasound system? Makes sense to me.
An ultrasound device that’s cheap enough to give to everyone, robust enough to send anywhere in the world.
Thought I’d just share that, it’s possible and very easy to do and trivial to replicate the work I have done.
Unfortunately, medical devices are not an area I specialise in and have no clue who would be interested in monetizing something like this.
Back to writing video game software.