Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

MU ultrasound imager brings diagnostics to rural Africa

Steve Rogerson
April 19, 2016
Tokyo-based medical-device manufacturer MU will this year roll out its US-304 portable ultrasound imager to increase the quality of point-of-care medical diagnostics in remote rural areas of Africa.
The device has been developed for the Doctor Car mobile-clinic project to provide medical care in remote rural areas of Africa. In this project, medical workers use a special vehicle equipped with remote-healthcare systems to diagnose residents in remote rural areas where medical facilities are unavailable. The data obtained by the portable ultrasound device are transferred via mobile networks to healthcare entities in urban areas for detailed diagnosis and proper treatment.
MU will start shipping ultrasound imagers to Doctor Cars and clinics in Africa this year.
The convex-type ultrasonic imager (3.5MHz) can perform abdominal diagnosis up to 15cm under the skin. It can be carried anywhere and simply connected via USB to a laptop or tablet.
The device integrates ST Microelectronics’ high-voltage, high-speed ultrasonic-pulser IC with an eight-channel transducer driver circuit manufactured using a 200V SoI-BCD semiconductor process. This process enables the integration of high-voltage CMOS technology, precise analogue circuitry, and robust power stages on the same chip.  
"The challenge in developing point-of-care ultrasound diagnostic devices is to achieve high portability and low cost without sacrificing performance,” said Yasuhiro Tamura, president of MU. “STM technology has proven an ideal solution to this problem. As we continue to create products for medical care in developing regions, we hope to expand our application scope to new areas including livestock care.”
The STHV800 integrated ultrasonic pulser is also said to offer low noise and tiny size to help produce accurate diagnostic images at a much lower cost and power consumption compared with stationary ultrasound equipment.
“MU’s newest portable ultrasound device is on course to improve the quality of medical diagnostics in remote rural areas, where the need is great,” said Hiroshi Noguchi, director at ST Microelectronics Japan. “The selection of STM technology confirms our commitment to providing ultrasound-equipment makers with the highest performing ICs in the market and positions STM as the go-to partner for creating innovative applications that make positive contributions to people’s health and quality of life.”
Since its foundation, MU, as an OEM developer, has been developing medical devices such as biological sensors (ECG) and its peripheral systems, ultrasound imagers and sleep sensors, aiming to contribute the growth of remote medical care. These products are now in the market as OEM products.
An evaluation board is available that integrates the pulser IC with an STM32F4 ARM Cortex-M microcontroller. The board’s graphical user interface and pre-set waveforms make it easier for designers to test the pulser under different conditions.