ultrasound at the handheld scale

SonoSite has been defining and redefining next-generation point-of-care (POC) ultrasound since their inception in the early 1980s.  Their latest product, iViz, is an aggressive jump forward to deliver a full-featured device in a handheld size. We joined Sonosite just as engineering was finishing their rough proof of concept and initial PCB layouts.  

difficult challenge, innovative solution

In order to make iViz work at the scale desired, the main processing chips would have to go into the transducer instead of the main display unit.  This innovation saved space in the display unit and allowed the cable to be much thinner, but it came with added challenges to the transducer including a larger electronics package and new thermal challenges.  

Comparing the complex electronics of iViz to previous tranducers.

Comparing the complex electronics of iViz to previous tranducers.

Early concept image from Sonosite 

Early concept image from Sonosite 

SCULPTING A SOLUTION that looks and feels smaller

Our biggest issue, the large size of the electronics package, was addressed by cutting out the square profile and sweeping a flattened elliptical with just enough draft to make a seamless split line .  This allowed us to put the shorter chips out on the edges of the boards and the taller chips down the center spine in the "attic" of the housing.  We also pushed some of the bigger components into the "neck", allowing us to slide the PCBs forward, shortening the overall design. 

Industrial design is a balancing act between human needs and technical realities.  We enjoy working directly with engineers to understand constraints and find solutions to hurdles that ultimately come up.  

Industrial design is a balancing act between human needs and technical realities.  We enjoy working directly with engineers to understand constraints and find solutions to hurdles that ultimately come up.  

clinical review of 3d models

During each phase of the design evolution we printed 3D models and loaded them with weights to match the mass and center of gravity of the unit with electronics.  Each transducer in the family went through at least three to four revisions to arrive at the final design.  The models were enlightening and provided invaluable insight.  The "Clinical Team" could articulate them as if it was the real thing and provide critical real-world feedback.

Finalizing the molded surfaces and delivery

The last stage of design was to optimize all the surfaces and deliver a drafted and fully shelled CAD dataset for mechanical engineering.  We take pride in delivering more than a pretty exterior.  There is no sense in re-doing work or starting over for manufacturing.  We delivery engineering ready models.   

 
iViz easily goes between wards, ICUs, and clinics. Light weight portable design with one-handed fit and control allows for easy maneuvering on the ground at the patient side, in transport with the patient, or for home visits.
— Sonosite

Credits:  Jim Young, Lead Industrial Designer / Greg Nieminen, Senior ME / Rodrigo Berho Senior EE