April 29, 2008
Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering Professor Boris Rubinsky and his researchers are harnessing cell phone technology to one day make medical imaging accessible to billions of people around the world. His new technology will improve access to ultrasounds, X-rays, magnetic resonance images, and other medical imaging technology used for a wide range of applications, from detecting tumors to confirming tuberculosis infections to monitoring developing fetuses.
Rubinsky and his team came up with the novel idea of physically separating three essential components of imaging – the data acquisition hardware, the complicated image processing software, and the monitor where the results are displayed. His new method allows the most complicated element – the processing software used to reconstruct the raw data into a meaningful image – to reside at an offsite central location, presumably in a large center where resources are available for its operation and maintenance. This central location would be used to service multiple remote sites where far simpler machines collect the raw data from the patients.
That’s where the cell phone comes in. The phone, hooked up to the physical scanner, would transmit the raw data to the central server where the information would be used to create an image. The server would then relay the image back to the cell phone, where it can be viewed on the cell phone’s screen.
This new technique for medical imaging is described in the April 30 issue of the peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Public Library of Science ONE (PLoS ONE).
Rubinsky, who holds a joint appointment as director of the Research Center for Bioengineering in the Service of Humanity and Society at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, worked on this project with Ph.D. student Yair Granot and post-doctoral researcher Antoni Ivorra. Both researchers are in the UC Berkeley Biophysics Graduate Group.