A scientist has invented a technique with which newer ultrasound machines can produce cute images of a baby while still in its mother's womb.
The first image most parents have of their baby is a grainy ultrasound splodge that requires a remarkable stretch of imagination to pass for their progeny.
Newer machines can produce 3D images of babies by computing how light reflects off their features and generating the appropriate highlights and shadows to give an impression of a 3D face.
The only trouble with these images is that they still look frighteningly clinical and far from cute.
The new technology developed for Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc changes this by making the 3D pictures look much better.
An ultrasound scan still takes place in the normal way but, once the 3D shape of the baby's face has been calculated, Siemens plans to manipulate the image to make it look more like an artist's illustration than a photograph.
The technique works by analysing the pixels in an image and then manipulating it in a predetermined way, like adding effects in graphics software packages such as Photoshop, to change the overall appearance.
In this way, every parent's first image of their baby will be more aesthetically pleasing, reported the online edition of New Scientist.
The inventor has filed a US patent application for the technology.