Take the sleek visual prowess of any PC or next-generation console game, then combine it with CT and MRI scans and you have FiatLux Imaging's (Washington) latest software brainchild the FiatLux Visualize. The company received FDA 510(k) clearance for the software last week.
"It's actually imaging software that's taken to the next level," FiatLux CEO Mary Frances Feider told Diagnostics & Imaging Week on Monday. "Look at the games you play on a PC; they are phenomenal This technology that we're using has been on games for the last eight to 10 years. We're just taking that and bringing it over to the medical industry."
The technology that Feider is referring to is the DirectX platform, which has become a gold standard when writing code for game graphics.
"DirectX programming technology was designed to take full advantage of performance advances in video graphics hardware," she says. "Harnessing the power and superior graphics capability of game technology for use in the medical imaging field brings a new level of affordable quality and accessibility to physicians and their patients."
The direct result is a razor-sharp crystal clear 2-D or 3-D image of the body that anyone can see leaves very little to the imagination. Visualize runs on off-the-shelf PCs and laptops with standard graphics cards.
Physicians will have the option to scale in on specific areas, show patients a model of exactly where the surgery will take place, and be able to give patients a far greater understanding of the procedure.
Besides stunning visuals, the pricepoint for the software severely undercuts other imaging software already on the market, coming in at just under $3,000.
"I haven't seen any FDA-approved image software less than $20,000," Feider told D&IW. "The gold standard is around $500,000. "We believe that imaging software should be accessible, and that a physician can go the bedside of a patient and show them their coronary graphs or what have you. That's the reason for our low price."
Traditional imaging software is costly, which typically restricts the technology to hospital radiology departments and radiology centers. The company said this flexible approach potentially broadens the use of 2-D/3-D imaging in surgical planning and patient consultation. It is of particular benefit to neurosurgeons, cardiologists and orthopedists, as well as other specialists such as surgeons. Its affordable price and ease of use hold promise to bring advanced medical imaging and analysis to populations in rural areas and developing countries, where they typically have not been available.
The Visualize software is targeted to run on everything from a medical provider's ultra-mobile PC to a radiologist's workstation, with PDA and cell phone medical viewers currently in development.
The company hopes to sell 1,200 licenses throughout the next six months. Next year, the start-up hopes to sell 6,500, according to Feider.
FiatLux has a unique composition, as it was founded only in April 2007, and is largely comprised of former Microsoft (Redmond, Washington) software developers. The association ends there and FiatLux Imaging execs say the company is anything but an offshoot of the PC software and gaming giant.
Feider, Quentin Dewolf and John Pella all were with Microsoft and started at FiatLux. Both Dewolf and Pella worked in the video game development department at the software giant. True to form, FiatLux's software is able to run on all PCs, because it depends on DirectX, a Microsoft graphics platform, which is commonly associated with video games.
Feider said it's because of a phenomenal development team, which has a strong background in video game and graphic design, that the company is able to have success and launch this innovative product so quickly.
"Part of it is that games are so cool and sexy that you don't see a jump into other industries," she said. "But you have that here and we have a talented team."
To date Feider said the company has raised a total of $4.5 million from angel investors and Scientific Health Development, a Dallas-based investment fund, in Series B funding.
FiatLux develops next-generation medical imaging software, including 3-D advanced visualization and analysis for MRI and CT and digital radiography.