Meanwhile, the technology company Philips has just released a cutting-edge vision of how pregnancy scans might look in the next five years. For its prototype, the Celebrating Pregnancy scanning system, both parents sit on a comfortable double seat. There's no cold gel or uncomfortable probe, just a soft fabric belt that wraps gently round the pregnant belly and projects real-time sound and vision from the womb on to a giant rounded tummy-shaped screen on the wall.
This is still a “concept system” and has yet to be developed in the laboratory. However, according to Frank Rettenbacher, a Philips consultant product researcher, this or something similar is predicted to become reality within three to five years. “This is on our roadmap at Philips. We will definitely see some dramatic changes in baby scans in the next few years,” he says.
The Philips system will transfer the scan to a “bebescope”, a hand-held device that parents can take home, which shows a virtual reality image of the baby complete with real recordings of the baby's heart beat and sounds from her womb. “Parents can move backwards and forwards through time to track development and rotate their ‘virtual' baby in any direction for the view of their choice,” says Rettenbacher.
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