Polaroid taps ex-Resonex chief Knudson to head Helios effort

November 9, 1994

Vendor to launch 14 x 17 format at RSNA show Changes are afoot at Polaroid Medical Imaging Systems. The Newton,MA, vendor last month appointed former Resonex chief Gerald D.Knudson as president, replacing Leonard Aberbach. Polaroid alsolaunched

Vendor to launch 14 x 17 format at RSNA show

Changes are afoot at Polaroid Medical Imaging Systems. The Newton,MA, vendor last month appointed former Resonex chief Gerald D.Knudson as president, replacing Leonard Aberbach. Polaroid alsolaunched a marketing campaign for the 14 x 17 version of its Heliosdry-processing laser camera.

The appointment of Knudson is a milestone in the growth ofHelios from R&D project to commercial product. Aberbach specializesin developing and launching new products like Helios, accordingto the company. Now that the Helios program is well-established,Aberbach has been assigned to a new product development projectwithin Polaroid.

Knudson is a seasoned medical imaging veteran who held positionsat GE Medical Systems and Acuson before his tenure at Resonex.He left Resonex in March when the MRI vendor's assets were takenover by creditor Technology Funding Secured Investors II (SCAN3/16/94).

Knudson's business plan for Helios includes increasing itspenetration of the U.S. laser camera market while at the sametime building Helios business in the rest of the world.

"The top priority right now is to focus on domestic marketingand, parallel to that, pursue aggressively the international market,"Knudson told SCAN. "The domestic program is already wellunder way and it's a matter of accelerating those programs inthe U.S."

The Helios program moved up a notch this month with the appearanceof the first advertisements touting the 14 x 17 version of Helios.The campaign fulfills a promise to release a larger format versionof the 8 x 10 product, Helios 810, which has been marketed fornuclear medicine, ultrasound and C-arm applications since thespring of last year, according to Richard Borrelli, director ofmarketing.

The addition of Helios 1417 to Polaroid's product line willenable the vendor to support the printing needs of all digitalmodalities in a radiology department. While the 14 x 17 marketis larger than the 8 x 10 segment, Polaroid chose the smallerformat for its lead product because of its earlier experiencemarketing film products to nuclear medicine and ultrasound physicians,Borrelli said.

Polaroid's plan for Helios 1417 will face a mixed bag of positivesand negatives. On one hand, its high-end technology fits wellwith modalities such as CT and MRI, which are often networkedto more expensive laser cameras, while ultrasound and nuclearmedicine systems frequently operate with cheaper on-board multiformatcameras. On the other hand, competition in the upper end of the14 x 17 market promises to be more intense than in the 8 x 10segment.

Polaroid's ace in the hole for Helios will be its dry processingtechnology. With both Helios 1417 and Helios 810 available, userswill be able to move all their digital modalities to chemical-freeprocessing, according to Borrelli.

"We can take a digital imaging department and eliminatethe darkroom and chemical processing and satisfy all of the imagingneeds through our technology," Borrelli said. "The storyin 14 x 17 is not whether you should switch to digital imaging,it's whether you should switch to chemical-free totally digitalimaging."

Totally digital imaging is Polaroid's term for the method inwhich Helios' carbon-based film responds digitally to the system'slaser diode. The method avoids artifacts and inconsistencies thatcan develop during wet chemical processing, Borrelli said.

Helios 1417's footprint is roughly equal in square footageto Helios 810, but the system is somewhat taller. The new camerawill be priced at a premium compared to the 8 x 10 unit but willremain "competitive" with other laser cameras on themarket, Borrelli said. Polaroid plans to begin an extensive premarketclinical evaluation program and begin shipments of Helios 1417in the third quarter of 1995.

Polaroid's OEM effort is also developing well, Borrelli reported.The company recently signed on Advanced Technology Laboratoriesand Siemens Medical Systems as OEMs.