Hacker Adds Augmented Reality To Ultrasound Machine Found In Dumpster

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A German student is combining AR technology with an 80’s ultrasound to display scanner data in real-time.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That must have been the thought going through Victor Skobov’s head as he began converting the output of an ultrasound machine found in a dumpster into a real-time augmented reality overlay.

A regular at Shackspace in Stuttgart, Germany, Skobov came across the obscure hardware after a fellow hacker happened upon the device while diving through public dumpsters in search of low-tech hidden treasures. After arriving at the “hacker hang out” and receiving a brief amount of attention from members, the out-of-date scanner was pushed to the side and more-or-less forgotten.

That was until Skobov discovered its potential and merged the obsolete machine with augmented reality to display scanner data on a virtual screen.

It’s unclear exactly how Skobov hacked all the elements together to make this happen. But based on the video provided, it appears the talented little tinkerer taped a standard AR QR code to the top of the transducer which he then used to track the handheld, while displaying virtual data directly beside it.

The digital overlay displays information and real-time images similar to what you would see on the physical screen of your average ultrasound machine. This switch to augmented reality could drastically cut the manufacturing costs of future ultrasound devices by removing the need for expensive physical monitors. And may also reduce the overall size of the machine, potentially making it a viable design for those wishing to perform scans from the comfort of their own homes.

The new system was developed using an SDK from Vuforia, an augmented reality development platform for mobile devices and digital eye-wear that partnered with Unity in 2016 to bring seamless AR development to the popular cross-platform game engine. No word on what system the AR ultrasound is running in the demonstration, but based on information provided via the official website the Vuforia platform offers support for a wide range of devices such as laptops, smartphones, VR headsets and digital eyewear.

Vuforia has been a popular choice for augmented reality developers in the past, having been involved in the development of various applications such as the augmented shopping tool ViewAR, 3D model manager/viewer Augment and the item-scanning mobile game Lego Nexo Knights: Merlok 2.0.

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