Medical Imaging Case Study
Liquidware used high performance, low power ARMs to drive a new class of portable medical imaging processing devices designed to diagnose Traumatic Brain Injuries in the field.
Each year, approximately 1.7 million people experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Leading causes include athletic competitions as well as combat scenarios. Early diagnosis is critical to ensure appropriate treatment, and prevent neurological deterioration or injury progression. Current diagnostic approaches require use of CT scans or MRIs, which are costly, time consuming, and typically unavailable in the field. A new venture jointly funded by the Department of Defense and a large private equity firm sought to develop a portable, high-performance device for diagnosing TBI through rapid eye-tracking and imaging.
TBI disrupts the patient’s ability to maintain a smooth and steady gaze, and this innovative device incorporated advanced image processing algorithms to determine whether the patient’s gaze was indicative of brain injury.
As this was not the company’s first attempt to develop the product, Liquidware performed a situational assessment to fully understand the problem at hand and recommend a solution taking past efforts into account. Liquidware’s findings suggested:
- The final device required innovative, applied technology to track eyes accurately, process the images, calculate patient performance and translate the data into a clinically relevant diagnosis
- Furthermore, the device needed to be simple to use and be able to implement eye tracking algorithms rapidly and seamlessly
- The project called for expertise from several disparate domains: neuroscience, optics, hardware, high-speed image processing algorithms, as well as industrial design
- A balance between medical research and applied technology was essential to a successful hardware prototype
While each individual module was manageable in itself, the critical driver of success or failure lay in the client’s ability to coordinate all the different teams simultaneously. Independently, teams with medical backgrounds, optical expertise, or purely software or hardware design would be unable to grasp the full extent of the problem. Hence, Liquidware took a top-down approach, focusing on the higher level problem, and then mapping out tasks and activities required from each team to maintain a smooth development path. Beyond the design work at the core of a complex product development project such as this, Liquidware worked to ensure that the project as a whole would be successful in delivering a working device prototype.
In this case, Liquidware provided Project Management services, helping to create an integrated timeline of activities across all functional areas, and for hosting regular all-hands update meetings to keep the broader team on the same page.
From a design and development standpoint, Liquidware built an elegant hardware solution using OLED display, infrared LED, and high-speed imaging technology. Additionally, Liquidware worked with the client’s in-house software teams to implement desktop-grade scientific algorithms onto a high-efficiency, ARM-based portable diagnostic unit. In later stages, Liquidware partitioned algorithms to achieve even higher performance across multiple processor cores.
The initial device was developed and delivered in under 12 months, and helped our client secure further private and public sector funding. Since delivery of a successful first-generation working prototype in early 2011, Liquidware has embarked on a long-term partnership in refining and upgrading the second-generation production ready device. With the core technology implemented, and having overcome the initial developmental obstacles, Liquidware was able to provide insight on inefficiencies and propose highly specific improvements to enhance the performance and appeal of the device.
Where the first phase of the project focused on completing a proof-of-concept, the next phase of the project incorporates client and market feedback, as well as an emphasis on benchmark testing. To reduce overall costs and lead times, Liquidware is working with an external industrial design team to streamline the assembly, maintenance, and testing process. Liquidware’s design for manufacturing (DFM) and cost optimization teams are working to ensure a smooth transition from prototype to commercialization
Embracing the philosophy that our clients’ success is our success, Liquidware has taken an active role in preparing presentations, demonstrations, and documentation to secure additional investors and customers.