In collaboration with iPixel, an Oklahoma City based company, we are developing image streaming capabilities over wireless networks, as part of the effort towards making ultrasound video (as well as exam camera video) available anywhere. Specifically, we are implementing this to work on a variety of point-of-care ultrasound systems, to operate on wireless networks, such as wireless LANs (Wi-Fi or 802.11), 3G/4G wireless networks and satellite networks. The challenge is the dynamically changing network conditions, in terms of available bitrate and transmission delays, requiring agile image compression.
The wireless transmission of ultrasound data requires several parameters to be set, including frame rate, resolution (such VGA and QVGA) and degree of image compression. An image stream, ultrasound or visual, with modest dynamic content (and hence lower frame rate) can be streaming with QVGA resolution over 3G networks, with minimal loss in diagnostic information, while highly dynamic images streams, such as echo-cardiography may need the bandwidth of an 802.11g Wi-Fi network.
This ability to use different wireless transmission technologies allows ultrasound video streaming from nearly any location, and can give immediate access to expert diagnosis even when the patients is thousands of miles removed from a major hospital. Situations where this may be of critical importance includes scanning of accident victims at accident or disaster sites, scanning patients who are homebound; scanning personnel on board ships to determine whether transport to shore is needed; scanning at remote mobile clinics in developing countries, and scanning at rural clinics.