Smartphone manufacturers have started focusing more on health care of late, incorporating health-related apps, including one to check heart rate, with an aim to attract as well as help the consumers. Now, people can take the test for cancer with their iPhones and a portable ultrasound machine called Butterfly iQ.

Guilford-based startup Butterfly Network developed the pocket-sized machine to enable ultrasound test more accessible to the public. The device has to be connected to an iPhone to know the result.

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According to a report by Technology Review website, Dr John Martin came to know that he has squamous-cell cancer with the help of Butterfly iQ. He placed the machine on his throat to check what was causing discomfort in the area, but to his surprise, a three-centimetre mass appeared on his mobile phone screen, confirming that it was cancer.

Butterfly iQ ultrasound machine and iPhone
Butterfly iQ ultrasound machine and iPhoneButterfly Network

"To look at this as just an ultrasound device is like looking at an iPhone and saying it's just a phone," Martin, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, told the website. "If you have a window into the body where anyone can afford it, everyone can use it, and everyone can interpret it, it becomes a heck of a lot more than an ultrasound device."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the ultrasound machine across 13 clinical applications – abdominal, cardiac adult, cardiac pediatric, fetal/obstetric, gynaecological, musculoskeletal (conventional), musculoskeletal (superficial), pediatric, peripheral vessel, procedural guidance, small organ, and urology.

Who can buy Butterfly iQ?

Only licensed healthcare practitioners or facility in the United States can buy and perform diagnostic ultrasound test on patients. It is a prescription device and is yet to be made available for use by consumers.


The device is priced at $1,999, which is much lower than those available in the market. 

Image generated by ultrasound machine seen on iPhone screen
Image generated by ultrasound machine seen on iPhone screenButterfly Network


It is not available outside the US but prospective buyers can start reserving (on official website) so that the company can inform them when it is released in their countries. Its shipping will start in early 2018 in the order in which they were reserved. 


Several iPhone handsets namely iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X support Butterfly iQ.