A Medical Device Daily

SPO Medical (New York), a developer of biosensor and microprocessor technologies for use in portable monitoring devices, has been granted four additional patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, bringing the company's intellectual property (IP) portfolio to a total of eight patents. These latest patents, developed by the SPO Medical engineering team, increase the company's technological competitive edge in providing innovative, high performance oximetry solutions for a variety of market applications.

The four new patents primarily focus on several commercial applications relating to the implementation of reflectance pulse oximetry for both medical and non-medical markets. Use of pulse oximetry in these markets enables accurate and effective measurements of vital sign information in a non-invasive, convenient manner with the added ability for placement of optical sensors on various places on the body for maximum user comfort and convenience.

SPO has also addressed the challenge of vital sign measurements during motion, which until now had restricted the effective use of optical sensors for professional and home care applications. This achievement should further assist SPO in the implementation of its technology in a variety of commercial product configurations.

In other patent news, Omnyx (Pittsburgh), a joint venture of GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, reported that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued patent no. 7576307 covering dual image sensors for rapid autofocusing. This technology, which was pioneered by scientists at GE Global Research, serves as a key technology innovation for Omnyx.

Omnyx is the sole license holder to this digital pathology technology and is incorporating it into its whole slide scanners to achieve high image quality while breaking through the current barriers in scanning speed. Products containing the digital pathology technology currently are in development, and are not commercially available.

The patent covers a system that uses two image sensors in a digital microscope, with a primary sensor for acquiring images at a fast rate and an auxiliary sensor that surveys focus data at a faster rate.

"Traditional digital pathology systems use only one sensor to perform both tasks. This new concept uses two sensors which allows the whole process to be faster while still taking a huge amount of focus points, thereby creating high quality images at a faster rate," said Michael Montalto, PhD, VP of Instrument Development for Omnyx. "Although the concept seems reasonably simple, it requires sophisticated timing algorithms between the two sensors and light source, all while in continuous motion."

"It took us several years in the concept feasibility phase just to prove we could acquire a high quality image at a fast speed," said Robert Filkins, PhD, co-inventor and digital pathology program leader at GE's Global Research Center. "The technology allows for image acquisition to be 2-4 times faster than existing technologies."

"Speed is a significant advantage in high volume pathology labs," said Gene Cartwright, CEO of Omnyx. "Fast throughput increases the flow in the lab and reduces turnaround time to the pathologist. It also cuts down on the number of scanners needed to digitize large volumes of slides."