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Prof. Yonina Eldar’s laboratory at the faculty for electrical engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) is developing an innovative approach for ultrasound exams: A state-of-the-art probe which cancels the need for bulky ultrasound machines we know from clinics and hospitals. The probe acquires only the relevant information, so that scans received in the miniature device can pass through the “cloud” to the attending physician’s smartphone (or tablet).

Dr. Shai Taymen-Yarden, a cardiologist from Sheba hospital, explains that in the case of wounded in the field, for example, this development will provide “real-time information to a doctor not in the field , allowing them to guide the paramedic on scene. This development will allow doctors to treat patients in developing countries from afar.”

Today’s existing procedure has the exams conducted in clinics and hospitals by a probe connected to a large, bulky and expensive ultrasound machine. The test results are collected in a computer and interpreted by a radiologist who then sends the diagnosis to the attending physician. This procedure usually takes several days, which could be critical in some cases.

Uploading the test results to the cloud, by which the attending physician can watch them from his mobile device, could save a lot of time, but so far this has been prevented due to the volume of information accumulated in every ultrasound exam. The speed of acquiring data in the device requires a connecting the probe with a thick and heavy cable.

The good news is that the SAMPL laboratory has developed a system that dramatically changes the character of ultrasound exams. First, a new algorithm developed in the lab offers to compress the information in the stage of the initial scan in a way that allows it to be uploaded to the cloud without hurting the quality of image and without losing information along the way. Second, the new probe developed in the lab obviates the need for a big ultrasound machine which is used in most clinics today.

Prof. Eldar’s laboratory focuses on developing innovative methods for processing data using only a small part of the sampled information. Reducing the amount of data sampled has very dramatic and positive implications: Shortening the duration of data acquiring and processing it, miniaturizing systems and speeding their operation, minimizing the electrical capacity needed and saving money. The trick here is of course to find ways of restoring initial data even though it is not fully transferred in the process. This is what the researchers in the laboratory are working on, and now the hard work is paying off.