The Ultimate in Ultrasound

(By Gerald Van Daalen -- Capital Photos)
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A 4-D time-lapse ultrasound image like this may elicit warm emotions as parents distinguish their unborn baby's facial features and fingers for the first time, but the same cannot usually be said about the clinical environment in which such images are created.

Under the slogan "Celebrating Pregnancy," Royal Philips Electronics is intending to transform these "uncomfortable and impersonal" experiences into "a much more playful, enjoyable format for the parents," says Frank Rettenbacher, a product designer for Philips.

Last year, Philips researchers began modeling ultrasound visits after a spa-like experience, complete with ambient lighting and new technologies intended to reduce stress. Images are streamed onto a big, bubble-like screen. With large, clearer images, Rettenbacher says, doctors may be able to "diagnose abnormalities a lot earlier than [they can] today."

-- Kathleen Hom

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