A while ago I got an idea: how awesome would it be to use 4D ultrasound to scan my unborn baby and make a VR experience of that. So I talked my girlfriend over even though the idea felt a bit weird and almost scary.
How to make it happen? I searched for similar cases online, but couldn’t find any. All I could find was some examples of using ultrasound images for a 3D print of your unborn baby. Luckily I got people at the Aava Medical Centre excited about the idea, and they helped me forward. I also contacted GE, a manufacturer of 4D ultrasound systems, and they advised me how to extract the right kind of files from the ultrasound machine.
On a misty Thursday morning in August we went to the Aava Medical Centre for the 4D ultrasound scan. At this time our baby was already a bit too big for perfect scans but after an hour we got enough material. From the data I imported DICOM files to osiriX lite and made the first 3D model. It turned out pretty messy, but with a little help from a friend we sculpted a nice 3D model.
The 3D model of the baby was then placed in a Unity project, and the experience was ready.
When I put the VR glasses on for the first time, the experience took my breath away. Even though I knew this was only a 3D model, the fact that it was based on our unborn child and the power of this immersive experience really blew my mind. For the first ten minutes is was just sitting still on the floor watching her floating in the air next to me. It was very emotional and calming, yet unreal.
So, is this the future of ultrasound? Shall we all get to “meet” our unborn babies in VR experiences soon? I think services of this kind of could be offered in the near future, but at the moment the quality of the scan is still too blurry, and the process involves too many manual steps. Then again, it certainly is worth the effort.