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SmartLight boosts German access through Siemens distribution deal


Siemens displays SmartLight viewer in ECR boothIsraeli motorized light box developer SmartLight has received a big vote of confidence in its technology after signing a distribution agreement covering Germany with Siemens Medical Engineering Group

Siemens displays SmartLight viewer in ECR booth

Israeli motorized light box developer SmartLight has received a big vote of confidence in its technology after signing a distribution agreement covering Germany with Siemens Medical Engineering Group of Erlangen. The deal gives a boost to SmartLight’s distribution efforts in Germany, and could be expanded to other markets, according to SmartLight executives.

The agreement is the outgrowth of a relationship that began in 1998 between SmartLight and Siemens covering Scandinavia, according to Arie Dan, vice president of sales for Nesher-based SmartLight. Siemens decided to extend the relationship to the large German market because of preliminary results from studies indicating that SmartLight’s technology can result in a 30% to 40% increase in visualization of x-ray films.

SmartLight’s viewers are based on a computer-controlled system that automatically senses which areas of the light box are needed for viewing and masks areas that aren’t required for illumination. The end result is that films displayed on SmartLight viewers seem sharper because of the reduction of ambient glare. The technology has received enthusiastic reviews from many radiologists, but some industry observers have been skeptical of SmartLight’s prospects because of the high cost of the viewers relative to conventional light boxes.

Siemens is convinced of the usefulness of SmartLight’s viewers and believes they are a revolutionary technology, according to Roselle Anderson, market manager of women’s health for the German vendor. The relationship gives Siemens access to a unique product that it can use to differentiate itself from other vendors, particularly in the mammography market, she said. Siemens displayed a SmartLight 2000 viewer in the mammography section of its booth at last month’s European Congress of Radiology in Vienna.

The German market is a good one for SmartLight’s technology, due to the country’s recently enacted DIN 6856 rules covering film viewing, which require film masking, variable light intensities, and other features that SmartLight’s viewers provide automatically. The rules are forcing many German hospitals to completely replace their light box inventories, according to Jerry Arenson, a former Elscint executive who is SmartLight’s vice president of marketing.

SmartLight will continue to maintain its direct sales presence in Germany, and its subsidiary there will work with Siemens, Arenson said. SmartLight also hopes to extend the deal to other countries, and is in discussions with other imaging vendors about potential relationships. SmartLight already has distribution agreements with Fuji in Japan and with Hologic in France.

The Siemens relationship comes as SmartLight is beginning deliveries of a motorized version of its film viewer, which was introduced at the 1997 RSNA meeting (SCAN 1/21/98). The company believes the new product will help it achieve revenues of $10 million in 1999, compared with $2.6 million in 1998 and $1 million in 1997.

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