PreVue would offer parents a live 4D baby watch window during pregnancy


March 29, 2011

The PreVue concept from industrial designer Melody Shiue proposes using 4D ultrasound technology to enhance the bond between a growing fetus and its parents

The PreVue concept from industrial designer Melody Shiue proposes using 4D ultrasound technology to enhance the bond between a growing fetus and its parents

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Checking the health of a baby inside the womb using ultrasound has been going on for a good many years and can be a useful tool for detecting problems early. A new concept from industrial designer Melody Shiue proposes using the technology to enhance the bond between parents and the growing fetus. PreVue would take advantage of developments in e-textile research and advances in ultrasound technology to offer mother and father a live window into the various stages of their little treasure's development.

Ultrasound scans are often a standard part of prenatal care. Recent advances in technology now offer clinicians and parents more detailed 3D images of the fetus in real-time. Three-dimensional scanning sends in sound waves from a few different angles and a composite still image is produced that shows surface depth and volume. Now another dimension has been added – time. Real-time viewing capabilities have been added into the equation by 4D ultrasound techniques, so that live images of the fetus moving around can be seen on the screen.

As the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exams on the fetus are still a bit of a gray area, how often such things take place is generally up to the healthcare provider. Shiue looked into the risks and concerns associated with ultrasound scanning while researching her thesis project at the University of South Wales, and told Gizmag that "in compliance with ultrasonic regulations outlined by the British Medical Ultrasound Society, I have proposed limitations on the usage of my device to a fixed frequency (10 MHz), maximum scanning time (20 minutes every 24 hours), and countdown time be apparent on screen with friendly notifications, not 'warnings'."

The parents themselves, working with their healthcare provider, would be likely to impose their own limits on the use of such a device – one interviewee revealing to the designer that a likely usage window would be 5 to 10 minutes before bedtime, to coincide with a period of high fetal activity.

PreVue would utilize upcoming e-textile technologies to incorporate the viewing screen and electronics into the device. Recent innovations like the bendy micro-LED arrays created by researchers at the University of Illinois and the work undertaken by the STELLA project offer only a glimpse of things to come. It shouldn't be too long before such things start to make regular military, medical or commercial appearances.

The device would also operate in two image modes – one for general diagnostic purposes and the other with enhanced resolution for more domestic settings. Although its primary use would be as a means of bonding enhancement rather than medical examination, Shiue says that "the user should still seek professional advice if anything is uncertain."

While safety concerns surrounding the use of ultrasound for prenatal care continue to be raised, the fact is that 4D scanning is being offered now and the personal approach offered by a device like PreVue may well be a viable alternative to the impersonal – and perhaps stressful – conditions of an examination room.

In the meantime, PreVue has been entered into the 2011 Australian Design Award/James Dyson Award competition.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

OK that\'s just creepy, especially image number 4.

Facebook User

Why can\'t expectant parents just wait nine months to see a baby like people have been doing for literally a million years?


At last a gadget for the very proud parents to be........??????

Allan Reynolds-Rowe

This is a cool invention. So many parents nowadays lack a connection with the growing child, which of course have led to more abortions, but the easier a parent can see their child growing, the more likely they\'ll keep, and prepare for, the child.

In addition to parents themselves, parent mentor organizations will soon have access to hi-resolution viewing with less maintenance, who previously couldn\'t afford the currently expensive equipment.

Great product!

Facebook User

"may well be a viable alternative to the impersonal - and perhaps stressful - conditions of an examination room."

1) Having been through an ultra sound twice I can tell you for most people this it's not impersonal or stressful condition. It's one of the coolest things in your life to see.

2) There is a reason doctors do this and not parents. As the article stated "safety concerns surrounding the use of ultrasound for prenatal care continue to be raised". No kidding. And for years we thought cigarettes were healthy too. For some reason babies know when they are being ultrasounded. I have felt them start moving when the machine was turned on. How could anyone say ultra sounds have no effect? Why would any parent want to do this more often than necessary when their kids brain and vital components are forming? What is the reward for the risk? Giving neurotic parents the power to do this every day seems crazy.

3) Bonding with a kid before they are born? Mothers no problem. Dads take time even after they are out. I don't see a nightly video chat with a fetus changing this.


so grazy!!

Luan Randal

To be totally absurd, . . . womb with a view ?!?


Ultrasound has been shown to interfere with the development of neurons. Giving parents this technology to be used all the time cannot be good for fetal brain development.


As harmless as Ultrasound is compared with other imaging technologies, it seems like a bad idea to expose a developing fetus, or even a mother, to any energy high enough to be useful for internal imaging on a long term basis. Quite simply, increased exposure compounds risk, and high energies -always- have physical, and therefor chemical and biological, effects. For the same reason that we should be upset about backscatter x-rays (not a big deal once in a while for an individual, but a serious and genuine increase in health risk for a population or over several exposures) we should be concerned about anything that encourages long term exposure to abnormal conditions ESPECIALLY in critical developmental stages.

Also, I don\'t really see that parents willing to put the financial investment and time into a device like this actually need more connection to their child. It\'s ignorant silliness to think that this would have any impact on people planning to get an abortion - except possibly as a shame tactic from people whose money could be better spent elsewhere. If you want to decrease abortions, pay for women\'s education in poor communities, and work to destroy the stereotypes that divide men and women as earners and nurturers so that men feel accepted into families and women know they can continue to be powerful and successful even with a child.

Charles Bosse
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