An ultrasound device that fits inside a pocket and plugs into a smartphone has is being put through its paces at a UK hospital.

Butterfly iQ is billed as the first ever all-in-one device of its kind, powered by a single chip that allows it to perform detailed scans on all areas of the body.

The gadget, which resembles an electric razor, uses a mobile app to display the resulting images in real time and provide doctors with all the information they need.

Smartphones can be plugged into the device to display results. Pic: Butterfly

It is being tested at Northampton General Hospital by Dr Jonny Wilkinson, who believes the innovative technology represents the future of medical examinations.

He told Sky News it could also prove a vital tool for training the next generation of doctors.

“This is a route into a very structured and clear form of ultrasound training – you can swipe on the screen, pinch to zoom, and it will let you engage the younger generation.

“It could be very valuable before moving them on to the more bamboozling ultrasound devices we use, with all buttons, bells and whistles that they have. This is the future.”

While similarly portable ultrasound devices do already exist, Dr Wilkinson said they were more complicated and more expensive than the one he has been testing at Northampton.

He explained that other devices require components to be chopped and changed to examine different parts of the body, whereas this one “can do the whole lot”.

Dr Jonny Wilkinson of Northampton General Hospital
Dr Jonny Wilkinson of Northampton General Hospital

Its creators are hoping that it will expand into more UK hospitals in future, having already been embraced by medical schools and professionals in the US.

The technology has also attracted the attention of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose foundation has invested in the company to bring the gadget to Kenya and Uganda.

Darius Shahida, head of growth at Butterfly, said the endgame for the company was for the device to eventually make the transition from hospitals to homes.

“Ideally you would be able to take images at home and send them to your doctor from there,” he said.

“Being able to do this in a home setting but so that the doctor can still see it, so you have the convenience and the expertise, would be the best of both worlds.”

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