Tuesday August 18, 2015 0 comments
FORT COLLINS -- Fort Collins-based Optibrand is seeing a biomedical market opportunity for its newly patented retinal imaging software that functions in a smartphone-based system to help prevent blindness and detect disease in humans around the world.
The new human software has been trademarked as RetCheck™ Technology.
One of the groups Optibrand is working with is PEEK Vision, a UK-based organization associated with the London School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene that has focused much of its efforts on the delivery of quality eye care in Africa, where blindness is a major concern and up to 80 percent is preventable.
The PEEK organization has developed the PEEK device – Portable Eye Examination Kit -- which is a Galaxy or Sony smartphone that holds a complete eye examination that an operator can administer to a patient in the field anywhere in the world. The results of the eye examination can then be transmitted, if necessary, via telemedicine to distant locations for professional evaluation. Part of the eye examination includes a retinal evaluation using the smartphone’s video camera. As the video of retina is being conducted, Optibrand’s software automatically extracts from the video stream in real time the best retinal images it detects that can then be used for diagnostic evaluation.
Optibrand and PEEK Vision met at an international eye conference in May 2014 and both realized they had the potential for great synergies.
Joe Ritter, Optibrand CEO and board chair, says the company had been developing auto-capture software as a biomedical application with human retinas for a couple of years before meeting with PEEK. “When Dave Henriksen, who is the chief designer of the Optibrand retinal capture software, and I met with two of the founders of PEEK, we all realized that our software could overcome the last hurdle PEEK was facing in providing a complete eye care examination.
"Our software is able to automatically extract the single-best quality images it detects from a real-time video camera preview and then create a panorama of the retina that can easily be sent via telemedicine to distant locations," Ritter said.
“Dave has created software to perform with human retinal image previews and added to that the ability of the software to stitch together the various captured retinal images into a single, wide field of view panorama image of the retina which can indicate the presence of primary eye abnormalities or other secondary retinopathies caused by systemic disease.”
“Basically, what our software does is look for the perfect images in the live video preview that would be useful for diagnostic purposes and extract them,” adds Henriksen.
Retinas are connected directly to the brain and -- by viewing retinal images -- can show eye problems that could lead to blindness and also indicate other possible systemic disease conditions.
“The retina is really a window into the body to indicate not only primary disease but also secondary disease caused by systemic conditions,” Ritter said.
Ritter said PEEK has concluded a crowdfunding campaign to help it become a commercial organization that can affordably manufacture and offer the PEEK kits to customers.
“We’re enabling their software to be more effective,” said Henriksen. “It seemed like a very good marriage of our software technology and PEEK’s smartphone innovations.”
Henriksen spent a week in Tanzania tweaking Optibrand’s software on the PEEK device. Some additional development work has just been finished that enables the software to perform on the latest Galaxy and Sony smartphones. Most likely, Optibrand will offer an app on the Google Play store that a PEEK device user could download for use.
Ritter said he sees a big demand for their app from PEEK users and others.
“The smartphone has created a new way of delivering health care to patients," he said. "By utilizing a smartphone, the portable handheld retinal image field is going to be a tremendous market not only in lesser economically developed markets but also in developed markets such as the U.S. “People talk a lot about lowering the cost of health care and identifying people with health problems, and that’s what this can do.”
While Ritter said he expects Optibrand to develop a strong partnership with PEEK, there are other companies he is talking to about deploying the software on their devices. “(Our) software automates the image capture process, which opens up opportunities for use in a variety of device configurations.”
Another potential application for human retinal imaging is in the pediatric arena for newborn babies, Ritter noted.
“We’ve got optometrists pushing for newborn eye examinations,” he said. “Babies are sometimes born with genetic or other types of retinal abnormalities and the sooner they’re identified the better the chances of a successful treatment outcome.
“Because it is so difficult to perform a retinal exam on newborns and infants, they are not routinely done," Ritter said. "Having a low-cost, handheld smartphone device with an automated process could change the playing field. It’s not a market now, but as eye professionals become aware of what the technology can do, I think they will see the merits for earlier examinations.”
To view a video of Optibrand's tech and its use in the PEEK Vision system, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHS2sRL8r04