Workstation wars heat up in medical imagingCiting predictions of rapid growth in imaging workstation sales,Hewlett-Packard officials have disclosed plans designed to propelthe company into leadership in the medical imaging and
Citing predictions of rapid growth in imaging workstation sales,Hewlett-Packard officials have disclosed plans designed to propelthe company into leadership in the medical imaging and visualizationworkstation market. HP joins competitors Sun Microsystems andSiliconGraphics in devoting additional resources to the medicalmarketplace (see story, page 3).
Nancy Hinckley, medical workstation program manager, announcedHP's intentions at the 1994 Radiological Society of North Americameeting in Chicago. The Andover, MA-based company has allocatedmore money to medical imaging workstation R&D. A new generationof HP's workstations will be introduced early in calendar 1995,she said.
A match between expected industry growth and HP's expertisein computers and medical devices persuaded officials to make amajor commitment to medical imaging, according to Hinckley.
"There could be a sales explosion," she said. "Youcould theoretically have a workstation on every doctor's deskat home and at the office."
HP ranks second behind Sun in the overall Unix-based workstationmarket, and it is among the top five companies selling diagnosticimaging workstations, Hinckley said. Its medical instrumentationsales, including an industry-leading position in cardiac ultrasoundequipment, exceeded $1 billion last year.
"We feel we are on the verge of taking a leadership positionin medical imaging and visualization with a lot of deals and contracts.Momentum is building,"Hinckley said.
HP has OEM relationships with GE, Siemens and Philips. It providesthe computer platform for GE's Genie nuclear medicine workstationsand was recently selected by GE to provide workstations for itsAdvantage Windows second-console system, Hinckley said. HP alsoprovides workstations to software development vendors, like ISGTechnologies in Mississauga, Ontario, and Advanced Visual Systemsin Waltham, MA.
HP's product development arrangements with these suppliersare unique, according to Hinckley.
"At companies like AVS, we can do specific tuning so theultimate user of that software, who might be a Siemens or GE,will benefit from the relationship we have with their developmentsoftware supplier," she said.
HP featured its Series 700 workstations at its RSNA exhibit.The modular platform is sold in several configurations, rangingfrom the low-end model 712/60 to the top-of-the-line model 735/125.Upgrades for this series are planned for early 1995, Hinckleysaid.
The HP 700 series was shown operating surgical-planning softwaredeveloped by Dr. John Goble, a professor of neurosurgery at theUniversity of Virginia in Charlottesville. Three-dimensional MRdata were transmitted between workstations positioned on oppositesides of the HP booth via Ethernet connection.
"We can use the 2-D data from that set to construct realisticsurgical simulations that actually previsualize exactly the routeswe will take into the patient's brain," Goble said.
This investigational software requires extremely fast computationand exceptional floating-point performance, according to Goble.He also chose the 700 platform for its fast graphics display andits ability to integrate technologies like JPEG video used inreal-time teleconferencing.
HP brought more than 15 scientists and engineers to this year'sRSNA conference, according to Hinckley. In addition to attendingscientific sessions, they conducted about 15 two-hour interviewswith engineers representing client companies. Specific aspectsof the product line, including graphics, central processing unitsand networking, were discussed.
The interviews are part of an 18-month research project, accordingto Hinckley.
"This process is leading toward the development of theindustry's most competitive platform, based on what our customersare telling us is needed as their applications evolve," shesaid.