Did you ever wish you had a “reassurance window” during pregnancy to see what was really happening to your baby in the womb? University of New South Wales design student Melody Shlue created a concept to offer just that. Her PreVue Fetal Visualization Device is an e-textile based apparatus that uses 4D ultrasound to provide an X-ray vision of sorts to pregnant women, their partners, and well, any passersby. Women would wear the belt around their pregnant bellies and a screen on the front showcases Baby’s latest fetal tricks whether he’s yawning, sucking his thumb, doing flips or just plain taking a snooze. Read on to learn more about this pregnancy gadget concept.
The PreVue Fetal Visualization Device, which was shortlisted for the Australian James Dyson Award, achieves the rounded belly-shaped screen thanks to the latest stretchable display technology. Shlue was inspired to create this design concept in part due to the fact that Australian research indicates that pregnant women sense less than a third of fetal activity, and some moms begin to worry when they don’t feel their baby moving between trips to the doctor. This device would provide on the spot assurance for those stressful moments, so the mom-to-be can see for herself that her unborn baby is behaving normally. Though, some moms may still wonder if what they see on the screen is normal or not.
Another nice plus for the PreVue is that the dad-to-be can take a more active role in the pregnancy. Even though he can’t feel the baby, with this gadget, he could see the baby and it could help the future father bond with baby-to-be more. Shlue says that it also establishes early maternal bonding, which can help keep mothers in a positive state of mind for a healthy delivery. She sites research that moms who sing a song repeatedly through pregnancy can use that same song later to soothe their crying baby. Babies start to hear and recognize their mother’s voice during week 12 of pregnancy and by being able to see what’s going on inside your belly, you can observe the reactions, reflexes and expressions that arise after singing, talking or even tapping on your belly.
But Is it Safe?
We’d love to see what a baby’s kick was like live on the PreVue screen, and surely the opportunity to see fetal development as it happens would be beyond amazing, but what about the safety of so many unnecessary ultrasounds? Even though the routine ultrasounds that are a part of every healthy pregnancy have never been found to be harmful, the FDA and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine discourage non-medical ultrasound use for entertainment or other purposes. Ultimately, we bet safety concerns would one reason this device is held back from becoming reality.
UPDATE: In response to safety concerns, Shlue says, “In compliance with ultrasonic regulations outlined by the British Medical Ultrasound Society, I have proposed limitations on the usage of my device to a fixed frequency (10 MHz), maximum scanning time (20 minutes every 24 hours), and that a countdown time be apparent on screen with friendly notifications not ‘warnings’.” Also, during her research for the project, Shlue interviewed mothers about their interests. Moms said they would most likely use the device with a time frame of 5 to 10 minutes (preferably before bedtime, which is also when the most fetal activity occurs) just to check in on their baby.