It has been exciting to watch the proliferation of digital X-ray and Cone Beam 3D imaging products over the last several years. Even with the advancement of imaging technology, discussion continues about radiation exposure from dental imaging. Of course, dentists and manufacturers alike adhere to the ALARA principle (as low as reasonably achievable), and radiation doses in dental radiography are relatively low. But what if dental images could be achieved with necessary quality and no radiation exposure? Would dentists and patients adopt such a technology? One young company believes the answer is yes.
S-Ray Incorporated, led by CEO Steve Baird, is working to introduce an ultrasound imaging application to dentistry. The initial product, still pending the necessary FDA approvals, will be a handheld, battery-powered ultrasound scanner with a full mouth tray. The first product will include a software component (an “app”) to translate the ultrasound scan data into 3D digital impressions. This feature is designed to replace the need for conventional impression “goo”, physical models, shipping, and storage in a dental practice. Its initial intended use would include interfacing with in-house and laboratory CAD/CAM restoration systems, and other systems, such as those used by orthodontic appliance suppliers. The company plans to introduce the first version of this radiation free product with the ability to render 3D images of tooth structure using ultrasound in July, 2013. S-Ray plans to release four additional “apps” for the handheld system, which will include automatic perio pocket depth measurement (without probing), automatic perio pocket charting into select practice management systems, cavity detection, and crack detection.
Perhaps just as interesting as this application of ultrasound technology is the way in which the company is planning to launch the product and raise capital at the same time. The company recently announced that starting in July 2013 it will begin releasing 300 units to dental professionals who commit to purchasing stock in the company at a reduced price. These clinician investors will receive a reduced price on the unit as well as the first four “apps” for the device at no charge. In this way the company hopes to be able to engage with early adopter customers who will have a real interest in providing the necessary feedback to make the early versions of the product as good as possible. The offer combines the company’s need for investors and clinical testers. Early adopter product evaluators + investment capital + knowledgeable investors = best chances for success.
According to CEO Steve Baird, “dental professionals have accepted this new model of raising investment capital and subscriptions are being issued.” The device is still pending FDA approval for sale. I look forward to following it as S-Ray moves closer to commercialization.
For more information on ultrasound applications in dentistry, contact S-Ray Inc. directly at S-RayInc.com or complete the information request form below.