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Kodak adds image streaming to enterprise distribution system


Kodak adds image streaming to enterprise distribution systemDeal boosts RealTimeImage into big leaguesThe Health Imaging Division of Eastman Kodak has signed a licensing agreement with RealTimeImage to integrate RTI's "pixels on demand"

Kodak adds image streaming to enterprise distribution system

Deal boosts RealTimeImage into big leagues

The Health Imaging Division of Eastman Kodak has signed a licensing agreement with RealTimeImage to integrate RTI's "pixels on demand" image-streaming technology into Kodak's Distributed Medical Imaging (DMI) systems. This agreement is the first of what RTI says will be several major deals with imaging and PACS vendors that are looking to improve physicians' ability to obtain and view diagnostic data outside the radiology department.

The deal with Kodak involves RTI's iPACS product, a Web server designed to enable personnel to access and view diagnostic images in near-real-time over the Internet or LAN connections on a standard PC or workstation. iPACS, which was introduced at last year's RSNA meeting, is intended to be an add-on image- and data-distribution server for the Kodak DMI, providing secure access to unaltered images directly from the server or integrated PACS.

Kodak sees iPACS as the best solution for distributing images over any type of bandwidth, according to Frank Giaimo, director of business development for Kodak's Health Imaging Division in Dallas. DMI uses Web technology to enable radiologists to send diagnostic reports and referral images over an intranet or the Internet. Referring physicians can then access those reports and images from an intranet or the Internet as well. In addition, reports and images can be printed on film or paper in gray scale or color with high resolution.

iPACS incorporates RTI's proprietary pixels-on-demand, which uses a wavelet-based processing algorithm to generate partial spatial transforms of areas of interest in an image. The iPACS server can open any local image, even gigabyte-sized images; remote users can then view and manipulate the images over TCP/IP networks in real-time.

"You pretty much have two choices today: you can have lossy images rendered pretty quickly, but if you want lossless you are waiting forever, especially on POTS, 56K, or even ISDN lines," Giaimo said. "The way RTI streams pixels allows lossless images to be distributed over low bandwidth."

RTI claims that its "streaming by quality" approach is what sets it apart from other Web-based image-distribution products, such as Stentor's iSyntax (PNN 11/99) and Image Medical's Practice Builder (PNN 3/00). The streaming by quality approach eliminates the need for preprocessing or separate archives, making the most important part of each image available for viewing first. Additional data behind the displayed image is "painted in," allowing users to gain a snapshot (20%) of the requested image in three to four seconds, while other detail transmits in the background.

"Because you always have access to the original image, you don't have to process the image in advance," said Gene Rubel, vice president of medical imaging for RTI. "Diagnostic quality data are always available with a pixel-for-pixel replication of the original image."

Kodak met with several of RTI's competitors before opting to go with iPACS, according to Giaimo. Ultimately, however, Kodak felt the RTI technology better met its needs.

"When we looked at what RTI had to offer, it was a very nice fit in terms of the architecture and our longer term needs," he said. "As we carry DMI forward, the streaming on demand technology of RTI will play very well in future generations of this product."

Kodak's participation in industries outside of medical imaging and RTI's background in graphics (the pixels-on-demand technology was originally developed for large scale graphic arts applications) suggest the potential for additional product integration, although Giaimo would not confirm this.

"We are not experts in medical imaging," Rubel said. "We are experts in moving images over the Internet."

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