3G cell phones could tap Web-deployed images

March 10, 2004

Predictions see 60 million in U.S. by 2005Radiologists may soon be able to use their cell phones to send e-mails and messages, send and view sample radiology images, and gain access to their institution's electronic medical

Predictions see 60 million in U.S. by 2005

Radiologists may soon be able to use their cell phones to send e-mails and messages, send and view sample radiology images, and gain access to their institution's electronic medical records. The enabling technology is third-generation (3G) wireless technology.

Japan's NTT DoCoMo established the world's first 3G network in 2000. Sprint PCS set up the first nationwide 3G network in the U.S. in August 2002. Some 60 million such phones will be in use in the U.S. by 2005, according to Dr. T.J. Lewis of Consulting Radiologists, a subspecialty radiology practice that provides services in the Toledo, OH, area.

"Three-G offers another venue for radiology content distribution for education, administration, and patient communication," said Lewis and colleagues in an infoRAD exhibit at the 2003 RSNA meeting.

Three-G technology supports data transfer speeds up to 2 Mbps for stationary digital cellular phones. The data rate drops to 144 kbps when users are on the move. The technology enables the transfer of multimedia information among cell phones. This capability is being incorporated into Internet-enabled cell phones and "smart phones," as well as portable computers.

Internet-enabled phones resemble regular phones and sport typical 160 x 160-pixel resolution with 1.6 MB of RAM. So-called smart phones are PDA/cell phone hybrids that offer 240 x 320-pixel resolution and up to 64 MB of RAM. These phones are larger and tend to have a shorter battery life.

Most 3G phones support WAP 2.0 protocol, which allows them to use HTTP transfer protocol and view HTML pages and inline BMP, JPEG, and GIF images formatted for small screens.

As a first step toward getting radiologists acquainted with the use of this technology, Lewis and colleagues have established a Web site that supports Internet-enabled 3G cell phones, future smart phones, and computers (www.angelfire.com/mi4/kalrad/rad3g.html). The site contains abstracts, links, a case of the month, and other information.