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SonoSite introduces ultrasound system weighing less than three pounds


iLook steps out as supplement to 180PlusAmid a flurry of e-mails showing a color image of SonoSite's smallest-yet ultrasound scanner, the Bothell, WA-based company launched its iLook platform Aug. 19. Two versions, iLook 15 and

iLook steps out as supplement to 180Plus

Amid a flurry of e-mails showing a color image of SonoSite's smallest-yet ultrasound scanner, the Bothell, WA-based company launched its iLook platform Aug. 19. Two versions, iLook 15 and iLook 25, were unveiled. Each weighs just 2.7 pounds. The two products, which received FDA clearance May 31, will begin shipping by early September.

"The iLook is very important to SonoSite, because it represents another layer of value we can add for hospitals and will enable radiology departments to extend their capabilities and simultaneously be more efficient," said Kevin M. Goodwin, president and CEO of SonoSite.

The iLook 15 was designed for quick-look diagnostics, including basic abdominal and cardiac imaging, in emergency, radiology, intensive care, surgical recovery, and other departments. The iLook 25 was designed for use in vascular imaging procedures.

"It is truly visual information in the palm of your hand," said Nelson Patterson, director of corporate strategic marketing for SonoSite, asserting that iLook is roughly the size of a PDA. "It has a touch-point screen and is what we call application-specific, meaning it has a fixed probe that is not interchangeable with others."

Various other application-specific iLook models may be forthcoming, although company strategists have not yet committed to their development. The current iLook models are being marketed primarily to hospitals and will be sold by SonoSite's existing sales force, Patterson said.

The new handheld duo is being positioned to supplement SonoSite's 180Plus, which the company bills as a high-quality, hand-carried ultrasound system for general imaging. The 180Plus, a pulsed-wave Doppler system with tissue harmonic imaging, weighs 5.7 pounds--more than twice the weight of the iLook.

"The iLook platform is designed to extend the usefulness and efficiency of our current 180 user," Patterson said.

Domestic launch of the product will be followed by system introductions in Europe next month, he said. Introductions in Asia, Canada, and other countries will follow, but these might not occur until early 2003.

"Our first orders (from U.S. customers) were received this week," Patterson said the day after iLook's U.S. launch.

Patterson refused to speculate on near-term sales, but projected that the market for iLook products could reach 5000 to 8000 units within three years.

"The iLook 15 has no competitors other than the cart-based systems that are already out there," Patterson said. "For iLook 25, our biggest competitor is Bard's Site-Rite."

Patterson added that iLook is ideal for the current economic downturn. Buyers are hesitating to purchase expensive new systems, he said, and iLook is easy on the pocketbook. The iLook 15 will sell for about $12,900, and the iLook 25 for around $15,500.

The marketing campaign will focus on the products' potential for holding down healthcare costs, Patterson said.

"From what we're seeing now, physicians who don't want to spend a lot on a large cart-based system, which can run up to $100,000, are looking at this as an inexpensive stethoscope-type of replacement product," he said.

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