Polaroid forms unit to sell imager

November 6, 1996

From the January 17, 1990, issue of Diagnostic Imaging ScanPolaroid sought a clearer market focus two years ago when it rearranged its marketing organization into seven worldwide business sectors, of which medical was one (SCAN 10/28/87).

From the January 17, 1990, issue of Diagnostic Imaging Scan

Polaroid sought a clearer market focus two years ago when it rearranged its marketing organization into seven worldwide business sectors, of which medical was one (SCAN 10/28/87). Last November, medical imaging became the firstsector to "graduate" into a full-fledged operating group,according to Dr. Sheldon Buckler, executive vice president.

The new Medical Systems Group will lead Polaroid's effort toregain its once strong position in the hospital radiology market,said Leonard Aberbach, director of the new group.

"The medical sector was a strategic planning group,"Aberbach told SCAN. "Now we are converting it into an operationalentity."

Polaroid instant prints were relegated to the private-officeultrasound market in the late 1970s with the advent of multiformattransparencies in medical imaging. The Cambridge, MA, imagingcompany initiated a development project in 1986 to develop itsown multiformat technology based on non-silver-halide, dry-processingtechnology (SCAN 3/15/89).

The project, dubbed Helios, gave birth to the model 810 laserimager, which was introduced as a works-in-progress product atthe Radiological Society of North America meeting last month.The biggest technological breakthrough of the laser imager isits film, which eliminates the need for darkroom processing equipment.

The film is composed of three layers, according to Dr. RoyMiller, Polaroid program manager for laser imaging. The imagingsystem itself, which is made partially of carbon, is spread betweentwo polyester laminates. This proprietary material creates a carbon-containingimage on one of the polyester sheets when exposure exceeds a certainthreshold, which is below that of daylight.

A laser diode is used to write the image on an 8 x 10-inchsheet of film similar in appearance to multiformat films and havinga resolution of 3000 x 2400 pixels. The company plans to developstandard 14 x 17-inch films in the future.

Polaroid is negotiating supply arrangements with medical imagingequipment vendors, but must first develop beta sites to performOEM qualification tests. Initial beta sites for the imager shouldbe online by June, Aberbach said.

The project is slightly behind schedule. Commercial sales,originally planned for late 1990, are expected to begin in early1991, he said. A suggested end-user price of about $30,000 isplanned.

"It is new technology in every way, shape, and form, includingthe hardware, electronics, and media," Aberbach said. "Thereare many subassemblies and modules that must be integrated andbrought to a proper level of reliability before we turn it intothe hands of an OEM for qualification."