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• Handheld MRI scanners |





Handheld MRI scanners

The ability to scan, analyse and diagnose the body has taken a huge leap forward by now. Hi-res, 3D imaging of internal structures and brain activity is now possible using real-time video, rather than static photos. This can be accomplished with devices no bigger than a camera or tablet.* In the late 20th and early 21st century, these machines were so bulky that they filled whole rooms.* Scans typically required half an hour or longer to create. They were also expensive: upwards of a million dollars for a state-of-the-art model, with each individual scan costing hundreds of dollars.

A new generation of machines began to evolve, based on supersensitive atomic magnetometers, detecting the tiniest magnetic fields. These replaced the enormous doughnut-shaped magnets used in the past. By the late 2050s, MRI scans have become as quick and easy as taking a photograph, with a hundredfold decrease in cost.* This is allowing healthcare programs in developing countries to benefit particularly.


2050 technology handheld mri scan future timeline




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1 "It's going to be an incredible tool. Fifty years down the road, there could be small handheld MRI devices – like the tricorder in the Star Trek television series – that enable us to see signals from molecules, and there will be patterns for different diseases."
See Thinking outside the box on MRI, Medical Physics Web:
Accessed 17th October 2009.

2 A typical MRI machine of the early 2000s, Wikipedia:
Accessed 17th May 2014.

3 Physics of the Impossible, by Michio Kaku:

Accessed 17th October 2009.


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