CEO: Jonathan Rothberg
Based: Guilford, CT
The scoop: Butterfly Network grew out of bioscience entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg's 4Catalyzer, an incubator that helps develop companies with medical sensor and artificial intelligence technology. The company, which is the furthest along of 4Catalyzer's ventures, is working on a new imaging device the size of an iPhone with an ultrasound chip that could produce 3-D images in real-time. One potential application includes holding a scanner up to an individual's chest and producing 3-D image of what's inside, the MIT Technology Review reports.
Butterfly Network is already gaining attention from investors, reeling in $100 million last November to develop its technology. With Rothberg and investors such as Stanford University and Germany's Aeris Capital chipping in funds, the company is poised to cash in on a market ripe for growth.
What makes Butterfly Network Fierce: As Butterfly Network co-founder Greg Charvat pointed out in an interview with the MIT Tech Review, ultrasound technology is due for an update. Traditional ultrasound machines use small crystals or ceramics to generate and receive sound waves, but the pieces have to be carefully assembled to process signals. Butterfly Network's capacitive micro-machined ultrasound transducers," or CMUTs, combine ultrasound elements on to one computer chip, potentially cutting down on costs while making the devices more replicable.
"The ultrasound (industry) is basically back in the 1970s. GE and Siemens are building on old concepts," Charvat said, as quoted by the MIT Tech Review. The company's new technology could allow scientists to "image faster, with a wider field of view, and go from millimeter to micrometer resolution," he added.
What to look for: Rothberg and his team haven't revealed many details about their technology. In November, the Butterfly Network helmsman told the MIT Tech Review that the "details will come out when we are on stage selling it," adding that the company planned to launch the product in the next 18 months.
But Rothberg's first goal will be to market the imaging system to developing countries, he told the MIT Tech Review. Butterfly Network will rely on software to run its system, drawing on databases of images to pinpoint the correct diagnosis. Eventually, the system will be able to make preliminary diagnostic statements based on pattern-finding technology.
-- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)
Startup working on cheap imaging device the size of an iPhone