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The AR-assisted Ultrasound by Butterfly Network is Here to Allow Doctors Guide Your Home Scans

The handheld ultrasound device of Butterfly Network, the Butterfly iQ, has been on the market since 2018. It is connected to a tablet or phone and can act like a small movable medical tool.

However, it is meant to be used by qualified medical practitioners only. The device promises a future with remote assistance to patients by utilising pop-up 3D instructions that could also instruct a patient on how to use the device in a proper manner.

The latest changes in FDA permit medical imaging tools to be utilised remotely by doctors during situations of emergency. This indicates that Butterfly Network’s technology can now be used at home with the help of remote AR-assistance software, which taps into Apple’s ARKit for rendering 3D directions as an individual makes use of it.

One can notice the small scanner having the size of a hair trimmer point over the body of a patient. In another window, pulsing ultrasound echoes are visible. Markers and arrows that can be placed on the iPad or iPhone of a patient can remotely instruct in which direction to look or to mark the interesting areas. Matt de Jonge, the VP of Product at Butterfly Networks considers it to be a “magic mirror”, which assists someone to align the scanner, and observe the live guidance of the doctor at the same time.

The abilities of the Butterfly iQ include checking possible broken bones, pregnancies and even lung conditions. In fact, Butterfly Network’s reports say that doctors are presently remotely looking for indications of lung damage related to COVID-19 with the help of the technology.

The feature of TeleGuidance works on the latest iPads and iPhones (fifth-gen iPad Mini, iPhone XR and later, and the Airs and Pros) that can handle the AR as well as room-scanning. The portable scanner also works with certain Android phones, but without the AR guidance. de Jonge thinks that more developed phones with improved room scanning and computer vision will be of more assistance down the road.

Butterfly Network has clarified that owing to the emergency of coronavirus, the FDA permission is temporary. The company stated that they are closely working with the FDA for bringing effective, safe and remote-guided ultrasound imaging to the patient and medical community. The firm is thankful for the chance to help with clinical care in such challenging times.

The ultrasound hardware is undoubtedly costly at $2,000 plus subscription services. However, the company has said that doctors can either loan or prescribe them. There is a chance that the product will be covered by insurance. Hence, it might be some time before homeowners start buying them for domestic purposes.

The notion of AR assistance can be useful in different types of ways –  a technician instructing you through technical support or home repair, doctors, a contractor striving to get an insight into your office and home device, etc. This sort of home aid is not available yet. However, it appears to be a promising step for the future even post lockdown.

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