Endoscopes in the developed world often use "chip on the tip" technology. This means the camera goes at the end of the scope. Today, price points still hover around $30K for chip on the tip designs because building cameras small enough for the tip of the scope is vastly expensive. However, the consumer market in larger format digital cameras has sent those price points plummeting for larger scale cameras. The result has been an opportunity to build endoscopes using cameras that go outside the body and fiberscopes to achieve lower cost designs targeted at the developing world.
Think Tank Technologies and Artemis Vision decided to partner on a low cost endoscope that would take advantage of these low price point cameras and fill the market need for endoscopy in the developing world. With a relatively inexpensive HD digital camera and fiberscope Think Tank Technologies built a prototype for the physical device. Putting the camera outside the body at the end of a fiberscope cut costs to around $3K but left a big problem. The fiberoptic distortion left a mesh pattern across the image rendering it difficult to read. The software necessary to remove this mesh, efficiently and in real time would be difficult to develop.
This is where Artemis Vision came in. We developed GPU based algorithms to remove the mesh from the images so that doctors could get crystal clear images from this vastly cheaper set up. We also took things further building a full featured application for the doctor. Doctors can now take video, zoom in and out, play back prior videos, edit videos and view anything in slow motion all in one application. The final product is an endoscope that performs nearly as well as its vastly more expensive competition, but at a realistic price point for developing world doctors.
Business Advantages to Partnering:
As this is a joint venture we've been happy to split the risk with our endoscopy partner. We understand that market leading products are often a collaborative effort of a few players, with each playing to their strength and each pushing things the extra mile. A viewer that removed mesh might have sold a few endoscopes, but we're all about putting distance between our partner's product and our competition. Why not build in a few ways to remove mesh? Why not make it zoom? Why not wire it up with easy keyboard shortcuts? And video editing, it's tricky but if you know your way around the right DLLs and you know your C++/C# it can get done and fast. Basically we seek to take things as far as we can because we know it's hard to build a winning product without winning software and we know winning software comes from thinking through things before the client does, building them quickly and hitting the market with a complete solution. The end result from our system rivals or exceeds many of its competitors at about 10-20% of the cost. Sample footage is available here.
If this type of partnership sounds of interest, let us know. We're always looking to work with device makers to build new things. Software provides a strong competitive advantage and locks the client into your device. Whereas before a competitor may be able to source the sensor, lens, and all the other components, with software you now have a product no one can copy (we key all our software to prevent duplication). If it puts all the images in your database, in your format, suddenly this product can stand apart.
Give us a call and let's see what we can do together. We're happy to split the risk. It can be terrifying to bet cash on future technologies. As such we view these relationships as Apple and an App-Maker view their relationship. By joining forces both parties create an unbeatable product, and Apple has little upfront risk paying for an App that won't sell. The iPhone and its Apps sell together and both parties win (big).