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Doctor Diagnoses Own Cancer with iPhone Ultrasound

Dr. John Martin, a Connecticut-based surgeon, diagnosed cancer in his neck using the first available solid-state ultrasound machine - connected to his smartphone. (Image credit: YouTube)

Dr. John Martin, a Connecticut-based surgeon, diagnosed cancer in his neck using the first available solid-state ultrasound machine - connected to his smartphone. The device, known as Butterfly IQ, was developed by Butterfly Network, which Dr. Martin joined as chief medical officer.

The device he used, called the Butterfly IQ, is the first solid-state ultrasound machine to reach the market in the U.S. Ultrasound works by shooting sound into the body and capturing the echoes. 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.

Martin says the ultrasound scanner will hit the market significantly less expensive than its competition, which makes it more affordable to physicians but means Butterfly Network will need to sell more to turn a profit:

“Now we think it’s an individual purchase,” says Martin. “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 company hopes to pair their new device with AI technology that would allow even a beginner to use it efficiently.

“To look at this as just an ultrasound device is like looking at an iPhone and saying it’s just a phone,” he says. “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.”

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