MANHASSET, NY -- Samplify Systems (Santa Clara, Calif.) has introduced the SMK9130 Ultrasound Beamforming Development Kit as a complete hardware solution for the ultrasound front end, from probe connector to PCIe connector.
Samplify claims that the kit will acclerate the already impressive one-year time to market ROI of some $5.5 million OEMs can look forward to with their module compared to using a chip solution.
"This is especially true for China, where Chinese government stimulus for health care is providing the opportunity for both ODMs and OEMs to come to market much faster with color imaging untrasound machines without settling on older black and white models," said Allan Evans, Samplify's VP of marketing. "I just walked the floor of the China Medical Equipment Fair in Shenyang,China, and I was amazed at the the number of new ultrasound models displayed. Basically with the stimulus money the Chinese goverment does not want to pay for last year's model."
Samplify's kit allows ultrasound OEMs to start developing their image processing algorithms with "known good" hardware in advance of the availability of their production systems.
"Time to market for a new ultrasound machine can take years due to the difficulty of isolating the source of image artifacts to the analog, beamforming, or software domains during system integration and clinical trials," said Daniel Kreindler, director of Medical Marketing for Samplify. “The only way ultrasound OEMs can evaluate the performance of their analog-front-end beamforming algorithm and image processing, is to look at a final image. The SMK9130 Ultrasound Beamforming Development Kit is the optimal solution to this dilemma.”
The SMK9130 is a complete 64-channel ultrasound front-end platform and includes 32-channel ultrasound AFE receiver modules (SMM9132 and SMM9133), for full continuous-wave Doppler (CWD) capability. The company’s AutoFocus beamforming technology, and QuadBeam phased array processing, combines the received signals from each channel to provide four scan-line outputs for each transmission. Tri-level pulsers and a transmit beamformer supports transmission for all black and white and color modes, and also includes a continuously variable power supply for the high voltage path.
Samplify provides a Windows software driver to control all the hardware, and an image processing stack for generating images. The software is fully forward compatible to future ASIC and module products from the company.
The SMK9130 will be available in the first quarter of 2011 with pricing at $60,000.
"Look for us to integrate our beamforming technology in silicon for the portable ultrasound market," said Evans. "It is a different market than the cart-based ultrasound machines, and we need to make sure that the reliability and ruggedness carry over to the portable market. After all, portable ultrasound devices need to be designed as medical digital devices, and not as consumer electronics gadgets."
For an in-depth look at the company see the premiere October issue of EE Times Confidential; a subscription publication.
Good to know about such a low-cost development kit. This will, hopefully, enable development of low-cost machines that can be deployed in mass-consumption markets like India & China.
However, a word of caution here - the result should not be a throw-away priced machine that can be used (by quacks) for a purpose that is unwarranted - determination of sex of a baby. In countries like India, it is criminal to determine the sex of a child in the mother's womb, because of female infanticides that have been happening in the past.
The move to bring health care to the home is much needed, but it won't happen until the type of scanners and analyzers used in a relatively clean environment in hospitals can not only be integrated into smaller personal medical devices, but also be used safely and reliably in the relatively dirty atmosphere of the average home. There are plenty of consumer medical gadgets that bought off the shelf at a local drugstore. But designing a reliable, secure, and rugged medical device like a personal EKG or ultrasound machine is another matter.
Medical imaging is one of the technologies that are ripe for a revolution: advanced sensors, DSP algorithms and computer power to compute, display, store and transmit images are finally here.
I think in few years we'll see USG and other 3D imaging techniques like IR CT filtering down to the individual practice level, and maybe even inexpensive enough for home use.
Very interesting development...medical imaging is own by GE, Philips and Siemens...and they usually have little incentive to adopt new hardware platforms...at the same time China and India need cheap diagnostics tools...portable, cheap, small ultrasounds gear could sell in millions as ultrasound is probably the best suited for routine diagnostics as opposed to more siphisticated but also expensive CT, MRI or PET...Kris