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Canadian company offers low-cost, high-performance CCD detector


Imaging Dynamics expects to beat out more than a dozen other companies selling digital radiography systems by offering a low-cost, high-performance system with its proprietary charge-coupled device (CCD) technology."We have one of the highest resolution

Imaging Dynamics expects to beat out more than a dozen other companies selling digital radiography systems by offering a low-cost, high-performance system with its proprietary charge-coupled device (CCD) technology.

"We have one of the highest resolution systems on the market, and we are selling it at a price point that the mass market can afford," said Ron King, president and CEO of Imaging Dynamics. "We feel that strongly differentiates us from competitors."

For about $100,000, according to the company, buyers of the Xplorer 1000 can acquire a solid-state detector and the necessary electronics and software to get digital x-ray data into a network or workstation. For customers seeking a turnkey solution, Calgary, Alberta-based Imaging Dynamics will integrate its detector with an x-ray generator and, if necessary, an image processing workstation. While such an option can raise the price to as much as $200,000, it will still be only about one-third to half the cost of turnkey systems offered by competitors.

The Xplorer 1000 will be marketed primarily as a retrofit to analog x-ray systems already in operation. The 14 x 17-inch detector, which reportedly works with any x-ray generator, is designed as a retrofit for wall-hung buckys and supports only chest studies.

"We want to come to market as a chest imaging unit and, with a later extension, get into general radiography," King said. "To do this, we'll be looking at different types of mounting applications, including ones that go under the patient table or bed."

The Xplorer 1000, which received clearance from the FDA in June, was showcased at the June meeting of the Society for Computer Applications in Radiology in Philadelphia. Its next showing will be at the November RSNA meeting in Chicago.

As with other CCD-based detectors, x-rays strike a phosphor scintillation plate, creating flashes of light that are translated by the CCD into electrical impulses. These impulses are sent to a computer for reconstruction into an image, which is displayed on a monitor.

Unlike most CCD systems, however, Xplorer 1000 uses a single CCD chip to capture data in a 4K x 4K matrix, comprising 16 million pixels, with a 12-bit depth. The company uses a proprietary optical lens system to focus the light flashes on the chip.

The inherent dynamic range of the solid-state detector means image contrast can be improved among and between soft tissues and bone. Selected areas can also be enlarged. The software is compatible with Windows 98 or NT operating systems. Data are DICOM 3.0-compliant.

"We offer a very simple, very efficient application," King said. "Because it has only one CCD, our system requires no servicing."

To promote the technology, the company hopes to create a sales and distribution network composed of its own U.S. sales force bolstered by partnerships with value-added resellers and OEMs. Among these will be vendors of information systems, particularly Web-based products.

"We feel that over the long run, providing infomatic solutions for digital patient record keeping will be the largest opportunity," King said.

Imaging Dynamics is now putting this network together, while attempting to establish reference sites at high-profile institutions in the U.S. So far, the only clinical site using Xplorer 1000 is the Calgary Center for Health. Another system will soon be installed at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Several other sites have expressed an interest in the system, King said.

Expanding its clinical sites and establishing sales channels in the U.S. will be the goals of a major marketing campaign designed to drum up interest in the product. Helping to finance these efforts is $1.2 million, obtained through a private placement of common stock and warrants completed in early summer.

Although other companies are better known and have established distribution channels, King is confident that Imaging Dynamics will win enough sales to prosper. Competitors are focusing on institutions with deep pockets that can afford systems costing $500,000 or more, he said. The Canadian company will be satisfied with the smaller hospitals and secondary providers with tighter budgets.

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