With the right device, it appears the iPhone can even detect cancer.
John Martin, the chief medical officer for Butterfly Network was testing out a device called Butterfly iQ, a small imaging machine for ultrasounds compatible with the iPhone.
According to MIT Technology Review, Martin noticed an unusual discomfort in his throat, so he ran the device — similar in design to an electric shaver — across his throat.
He discovered a mass that turned out to be squamous cell cancer. Martin has since undergone surgery and radiation.
“I felt something funny in my neck, connected the probe to my phone, did an ultrasound, and there it was: My tumor,” said Martin in a testimonial on Butterfly Network’s website.
According to the website for Butterfly iQ, the device sells for under $2,000. According to health industry website Modern Healthcare, the average price for ultrasound systems is $115,000, with low-end systems costing $25,000.
The device is aimed at healthcare practitioners and facilities in the U.S. licensed to perform ultrasounds. It ships in early 2018, and works with iPhone models as far back as the iPhone SE.
A big reason the device is much cheaper than a traditional ultrasound machine is most of the technology is housed within a microchip.
“Just as putting a camera on a semiconductor chip made photography accessible to anyone with a smartphone and putting a computer on a chip enabled the revolution in personal computing before that, Butterfly’s Ultrasound-on-a-Chip technology enables a low-cost window into the human body, making high-quality diagnostic imaging accessible to anyone,” said Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, founder and chairman of Butterfly Network
Martin said it was while waiting for biopsy results to return on his mass and waiting for radiation therapy he considered how valuable time is when treating patients.
“The sooner we make a diagnosis, the sooner we start treatment,” said Martin. “The secret behind our device is we’re conquering time.”
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.