PillarWave: ultrasound patch on skin replaces hospital visit
An echogram, to visualise in detail the condition of an organ such as the heart or the blood circulation, is a procedure usually performed by an expert sonographer in a hospital or diagnostic centre. TNO has developed a technology in which a flexible patch on the skin uses ultrasound to take images of the organ to be examined over an extended period of time. This means the patient can be monitored at home, eliminating the need to go to hospital for many examinations.
The technology, called PillarWaveTM, has now been patented and we’re in talks with medical device manufacturers to commercialise it. Specific structures that emit and receive sound waves are printed on very thin plastic film. Because it’s possible to print a great number of these structures over a large area, we can obtain a super-sharp image of the organ to be examined.
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Flexible and cheap
Current ultrasound equipment is rigid and difficult to incorporate into patches, while sensors are small and difficult to scale to large areas. PillarWaveTM technology enables us to make patches or other ultrasound sensors that are ultra-thin and flexible, have a large sensor surface and therefore a large field of view, and are much cheaper to manufacture in large numbers. Instead of silicon, which is expensive when used for large areas, our technology uses cheap plastic as a base material.
Images over a longer period
There are innumerable applications, which will make it easier to monitor patients’ health at home. Whereas measuring blood pressure or heart rate often produces a snapshot, wearing a patch provides images over a longer period of time. This results in a much better diagnosis and may even prevent unnecessary surgery. Many examinations can be performed at the GP’s surgery or at home instead of at the hospital, such as ultrasound monitoring of critical pregnancies. This makes such examinations not only more pleasant, but also better and cheaper.
We’re keen to engage with market players who want join us in developing the PillarWaveTM technology further into promising devices. Interested? If so, please get in touch via the information below.