Signostics expects the device will be adopted in emergency rooms, doctor's offices and other settings. It could be used for screening for fetal positioning and abdominal aortic aneurysm as well as a wide range of trauma and other assessments.
"ER doctors are trained in ultrasound as part of their residency, and they are enthusiastic about our device because they can have it with them all the time," said Bartlett. "I can think of hundreds of cardiac arrests where I wish I had this to have a quick check on internal bleeding or the function of the heart," he added.
To date, the only the only other handheld ultrasound device is the Siemens Acuson P10, about twice the weight and volume of the Signos. Other companies make ultrasound probes that plug into a laptop. Most portable ultrasound machines are laptop-sized systems that cost $10,000 or more.
"We have heard some of the big companies in ultrasound including GE have plans for smaller products but we they may cost $10,000 or more," said Bartlett. "We are going to continue to drive down our costs and add features," he said.
The global personal ultrasound market is estimated to be worth around $3 billion, with the U.S. market worth about $1 billion, according to a 2005 study from McGregorTan Research (Adelaide) cited by Signostics
"The trend to moving diagnostics to the point of care and beyond that to the home is happening across the board in medical electronics," said Pat O'Doherty, healthcare segment director at Analog Devices Inc. which supplied the gyro and a low noise amp used in the device.
"This will be the trend in the next decade in most of the segments we serve," said O'Doherty. "We'll see a whole lot of interesting announcements in areas such as patient monitoring and diagnostics going into rural clinics for emerging markets and elder care," he added.
The trend will force chip designers such as ADI to identify emerging systems requirements, he said. "Performance levels are not being pushed so much as cost points, size and other systems needs that will be the key differentiators in the semiconductor world going forward," he added.