3-D Ultrasounds

So this post over at Daddy Types got me thinking about how 3D ultra sounds will eventually make the static fuzz of current ultra-sounds seem as prehistoric as taking x-rays and using special rulers to determine the size of in-utero fetuses.

From what I can tell 3-D ultrasounds are just an algorithm. The ultrasound machine just takes pictures at many different depths and angles. Have an algorithm to tell what the “outside” of the baby is, and stitch together a 3D image from all those pictures. Here’s an illustration of how it works:

The hard part is knowing what is the skin and what is, say placenta, and then just rendering all those “skin” points. The theory is a lot easier than the actual implementation I’m sure. But I think that in the future we’ll go in for an ultrasound and it will look like the clear plates in an encyclopedia. The ones with a plate for skin, then muscles, a plate for nerves, and one for the vascular system, and finally the skeleton. I think once the algorithms advance we’ll see all that, in 3D. We’ll have to explain to our kids how we used to go into the doctor and it was like a Rorschach test to figure out where your baby was in the snow.

Note: I will return to the Lego Advent Calendar. I really need a quick point and shoot camera that hooks into my computer for blog pictures. Anyone know where I can find a cheap memory stick/camera?