Software Development/System Integration

The working group of Software Engineering/System Integration develops not only complex software systems for internal and external ultrasound research but also forms the bridge to the customer and user with the creation of application-specific systems.

In the field of software engineering this group develops software concepts and libraries for all ultrasound frequency ranges from low-frequency sonar to classical medical imaging, right up to high-frequency ultrasound microscopy. This means that we can take recourse to joint resources for use in diverse applications for the control of the ultrasound hardware, signal processing including parameter extraction, as well as visualization techniques for both 2D and 3D imaging and image processing. Our software components are used both in firmware and embedded software in measurements systems as well as in classical desktop applications, independently or networked, right up to mobile apps on smartphones and tablets. All of these systems are subject to the same high demands in terms of quality and reliability. We fulfil these by testing our core technologies, but also individual software systems that we develop in classical or agile development processes, both as medical products or in accordance with industrial requirements.

In the field of system integration we execute the application integration of all the individual components in complete systems. Here the compatibility and interoperability of different software components are ensured, usually in combination with the measurement electronics and mechanics (construction with additional actuators and sensors) and optimized to product maturity. Customer-specific software solutions are created for these applications and the complete systems are tested either according to medical regulations or industrial standards. Alongside classical medical imaging systems, we also integrated a wide range of systems for special applications for example in multimodal and hybrid imaging (parallel MR+US, US+optics such as optoacoustics) as well as functional imaging.

Phased array ultrasound research platform

Diagnostic imaging quality of ultrasound systems is defined by the beamforming characteristics of the ultrasonic device. Modern ultrafast ultrasound plane wave imaging, dynamic focusing, steering, amplitude weighting, pulse coding and controlling the size of the aperture of an array probe are the techniques which are used to form the acoustic beam. Especially for research and development it is necessary to have complete control possibilities over the parameters that determine the geometry, the direction, the number and the acoustical properties of the sound beams.

The ultrasound research system "DiPhAS", which is in its ninth generation of development, provides full control over all beamforming and imaging parameters. DiPhAS is controlled and programmed by a standard PC. As well as the basic routines provided by its operating system, additional extended functions for control and processing are implemented. The system is based on a PC platform with Microsoft Windows operating system, GPU-powered for massive parallel processing (like beamforming) and includes programming manual for all interface functions with all SDK software samples. Documentation of electrical safety, system components up to layouts for OEM can be provided and a user/application specific medical certification testing is available as an option.

For detailed information about the ultrasound research platform please refer to this following page.

 

Ultrasound research interface software

© Photo Fraunhofer IBMT

Ultrasound research offline analysis tool.

The development of new procedures and techniques using ultrasound imaging and signal processing is usually based on the registration and processing of high-frequency ultrasound raw data both before and after beamforming. Existing commercial ultrasound platforms usually only offer limited access to the relevant system parameters.

We offer a complete ultrasound research package including a software architecture based on the scalable DiPhAS multichannel ultrasound research hardware with free access to all system parameters for beamforming and signal-/image-processing, including multicore and GPU accelerated 2D scan conversion, 3D volume reconstruction and raw single channel data access. The scalable hardware system and the software implementation are used in medical products with certification for clinical use and utilize a unique closed loop control for implementation of new algorithms and procedures without losing a clinical validation.

For detailed information about the ultrasound research software interface please refer to this following page.

App-based mobile ultrasound systems

© Photo Fraunhofer IBMT

90mm

Mobile computing is becoming increasingly important in medical imaging. Existing mobile ultrasound devices are based on completely integrated dedicated electronics, or they provide image display based on pre-processed data transferred from integrated electronics inside the transducer to handheld devices. In both cases the cost of the ultrasound hardware is still very high because beamforming is still done inside the dedicated electronics requiring a lot of expensive hardware resources.

We offer full ultrasound beamforming and signal processing on mobile consumer devices like tablets or smartphones to reduce the ultrasound hardware cost. This transition of complex logic from dedicated ultrasound hardware to software on consumer electronics offers new possibilities not only in the professional medical imaging device market. It allows us to develop low-cost mobile ultrasound applications in general. Our mobile ultrasound devices target this with highly integrated electronics at different channel count for use in medical and technical applications.

Filter development by raw signal processing and parameter extraction

© Photo Fraunhofer IBMT.

Ultrasonic attenuation change in thermal treatment of tissue.

Ultrasound is a mechanical wave that changes its properties - such as frequency, amplitude and phase - as it passes through a medium. These changes can be measured. However, only the research and development of methods for sound generation in combination with algorithms for signal processing allow the extraction of reproducible measurement values as well as informative and qualitatively high images. According to the needs of the application, methods for ultrafast ultrasound imaging, ultrafast Doppler processing, speckle tracking (such as vector velocity imaging), scatterer analysis, attenuation measurement, elastography, analysis of 2nd harmonic and sub-harmonic imaging, coded excitation, and matched filter approaches are used, evaluated and further enhanced for product development. One of the main topics under investigation is the development of automated analysis for generation of reliable and reproducible measurements, for example for the therapy control and guidance during ablation processes. Analyzing the frequency-dependent attenuation for ablation process monitoring is only possible with research systems and is an example for the use of our DiPhAS research beamformer platform by leveraging the possibilities for transmission programming and reception of measurement data in all steps in the processing pipeline from pre-beamformed channel data up to fully reconstructed and improved beamformed data and images.

Sonar Systems

Based on our ultrasound research platform and the low frequency version of the beamformer we develop ultrasound systems for sonar applications. Using these multi-channel sonar systems and special antennas,, we realized, for example, a multibeam echo sounder (MBES) for fast volumetric sonar imaging.

The main characteristics for the sonar beamformer systems are a low frequency transmission and low noise reception. These are combined in a 128 channel beamformer with low power consumption and a passive cooling concept.

Volume data sets are acquired, for example, using a mills-cross antenna arrangement for transmission and reception or a simple defocussed transmission using a linear transducer. By realizing antenna frequencies up to 2 MHz it is also possible to achieve a high-resolution sonar camera. The system is as small as a shoe box and can be integrated in different AUV and ROV systems mechanically and electronically using the communication and data transfer via Gigabit Ethernet to any PC. This allows autonomous online data acquisition and navigation during underwater mission operations.

Ultrasound Research Platform

Ultrasound Research Software

Mobile App for iPhone/iPad

Offers of the Main Department of Ultrasound

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Brochure of Main Department of Ultrasound

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