Two years ago, computer engineers at Washington University in St. Louis created a prototype that took ultrasound imaging to a new level of mobility and connectivity—they connected an ultrasound probe to a smart phone. Now a startup awaiting clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hopes to begin selling the device next year.
Such a device would be useful for emergency responders, who could scan an injured person to detect internal bleeding or other trauma, and then immediately send an image to the hospital so physicians could be better prepared for the patient's arrival. Or a nurse practitioner visiting a pregnant woman's home could ask a specialist stationed elsewhere to weigh in on anomalies in the scan.
The company, Mobisante, was cofounded by David Zar (one of the prototype's developers) and Sailesh Chutani, formerly the head of external research at Microsoft. While at Microsoft, Chutani's group provided a mobile-health technology grant to Zar and his colleague, allowing them to design their smart-phone ultrasound prototype.
That Microsoft backing does not extend to Mobisante, though. The startup, which is based in Redmond, Washington, is in talks with venture capital investors, but so far it's been 40 percent self-funded and 60 percent funded by potential customers, such as community clinics, says Chutani, who declined to reveal the amount raised. (Many community clinics don't have the budget for a standard ultrasound machine, which can cost well above $50,000.)