Lead Investigator: Jeff Neasham
The aim of this work is to develop an inexpensive technology for medical ultrasound scanning, drawing upon many years of innovation in sonar signal processing at Newcastle University. Ultimately, the goal is to create a product which could be manufactured for £30-40 and hence enable the use of ultrasound imaging in applications or regions of the world where it is currently cost prohibitive.
The target manufacturing cost places huge constraints on the component costs, hence, the design philosophy has been to use the minimum possible hardware in the scanning head and connect to any available PC (via USB) to perform signal/image processing and display. This minimal hardware approach means moving from expensive multi-element array transducers synonymous with state-of the-art machines and reducing this down to a single transducer element. Echo data is gathered as the transducer is automatically scanned back and forth across the skin using a novel low-cost motor assembly and the PC then performs the focusing and other operations to generate an image up to 4 times per second.
The work is in collaboration with Delft Imaging Systems (Netherlands) and CORDAID (Netherlands) with the intention that the final product will be marketed under licence by Delft Imaging Systems and their partners. The focus will initially be on obstetric care in low-resource settings, however, the research undoubtedly has other applications in healthcare and beyond.