The Sonic Flashlight TM

US Patent no. 6599247, and pending
Supported by the NIH, NSF, and the Whitaker Foundation.

Visualization and Image Analysis Laboratory
George Stetten's Home Page

We briefly describe here a new method of visualization that merges real time images from ultrasound with direct human vision. We call this method Real Time Tomographic Reflection (RTTR). The method is summarized in the following figure.

A virtual image of the ultrasound data is created at its actual location within the patient. The word "virtual" is used in the traditional sense; for all optical purposes the light from each pixel emanates from its actual location within the patient. The merger is independent of viewer location and natural stereoscopic vision applies. Below is a photograph of a hand being scanned with ultrasound, as seen through the mirror.

The portable version seen below can be held in one hand while manipulating a needle with the other.


Bioengineering Research Grant NIH, "Guiding Vascular Access with the Sonic Flashlight," 7/01/03-6/30/06.

Bioengineering Research Grant NIH, "Tomographic Reflection for Image Guided Intervention," 5/15/03-3/15/07.

NSF Robotics and Human Augmentation, "Augmenting Visual Perception with Real Time Tomographic Holography," 7/1/03-6/30/06.

Our Publications:

W. Chang, G. Stetten, L. Lobes, D. Shelton, R. Tamburo, " Guidance of Retrobulbar Injection with Real Time Tomographic Reflection," Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, vol. 21, pp. 1131-1135, 2002. Request reprint by email

D. Shelton, W. Chang, G. Stetten, " Ultrasound Visualization With the Sonic Flashlight," SIGGRAPH 2002, Emerging Technologies July, 2002.

G. Stetten, D. Shelton, W. Chang, V. Chib, R. Tamburo, D. Hildebrand, L. Lobes, J. Sumkin, "Towards a clinically useful Sonic Flashlight," IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging 2002 (in press).

G. Stetten, V. Chib, D. Hildebrand, J. Bursee, " Real Time Tomographic Reflection: Phantoms for Calibration and Biopsy," IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Augmented Reality, October 2001, New York City, pp. 11-19.

G. Stetten, V. Chib, "Magnified Real-Time Tomographic Reflection," MICCAI 2001, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol. 2208, pp. 683-690

G. Stetten, V. Chib, Overlaying Ultrasound Images on Direct Vision, Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 235-240, 2001. Request reprint by email (You can download a Technical Brief (pdf) from the CMU Robotics Institute Online Publications which is basically the same as this article).

G. Stetten, V. Chib, R. Tamburo, " Tomographic Reflection to Merge Ultrasound Images with Direct Vision," IEEE Proceedings of the Applied Imagery Pattern Recognition (AIPR) annual workshop, 2000, pp. 200-205.

Other Articles:

K. Leutwyler, " Sonic Flashlight Lets Doctors See Through Flesh," Scientific American Online, 12/10/2001.

S. Pyne, "I'm Looking Through You," Discover Magazine, Vol. 23 No. 3

S. Ditlea, " Augmented Reality," Popular Science, Feb. 2002, p. 42

F. Blanchard, "Sonic Flashlight Makes Human Body Seem Translucent," Whitaker Foundation website, Dec. 6, 2001.

"Sonic Flashlight Makes Human Body Seem Translucent," IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine, vol. 21, no. 1, p. 93, Jan/Feb, 2002.

"Translucent to the Naked Eye,," Whitaker Foundation 2001 Annual Report.

B. Spice, " Bioengineer's sonic flashlight would let doctors 'see' what's under patient's skin," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, July 22, 2002.

"X-ray vision for doctors ," BBC News, World Edition, Tuesday, August 13, 2002.