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DDD purchase gives Picker edge in spiral CT

Awardee Story DDD purchase gives Picker edge in spiral CT
Date: Feb 12, 1992

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Picker International's acquisition last week of Dynamic Digital Display will provide the major medical imaging vendor a leg up in the fast-emerging field of volumetric CT imaging. DDD, previously an independent supplier of medical imaging, three-dimensional workstations and related visualization technology, obtained greater financial and marketing resources, as well as a profitable exit path for its venture-capital backers.

Picker renamed the existing DDD VoxelScope workstation as the Voxel Q and will sell the unit with its CT equipment. When tied o Picker's CT systems via a hyper-LAN connection, Voxel Q will provide instantaneous 3-D and multiplanar reconstruction. Eventually, DDD's proprietary image reconstruction accelerator will be built directly into the Picker CT line, said Timothy B. Hansen, vice president.

DDD will continue as Picker's visualization business development group and will remain in its facility outside Philadelphia, to which it moved last year. The independent 3-D firm worked with Picker for over a year in supplying visualization software for the vendor's CT therapy simulation equipment and provided its 3-D workstation to Picker on a private-label basis.

Perhaps the most valuable asset Picker has obtained through the purchase of its technology partner is the 20-member DDD visualization engineering team, which will be maintained, Hansen told SCAN.

Lee Smith, current DDD president and CEO, joined the company three years ago after serving as vice president and general manager of federal business programs for Picker (SCAN 3/1/89). He will continue to head up the visualization group as general manager. David A Talton, DDD co-founder and vice president of engineering, will also continue under Picker.

The visualization group will function within Picker's CT business unit, Hansen said. Picker will continue to use its supercomputer Vistar and Odyssey workstations in MRI and nuclear medicine, respectively. Picker will also continue to offer customers independent workstations, such as the Cemax Sun Sparcstation-based unit. The Cleveland vendor remains dedicated to open-system architecture, a policy that was strengthened through several interface agreements revealed at the December Radiological Society of North America show (SCAN

Despite the growing popularity in medical imaging of inexpensive but powerful Unix workstations such as Sun's, there is a need for the specialized medical image reformatting technology developed by DDD and other 3-D workstation firms. Speed is essential in handling the large data sets acquired in volumetric CT and MRI. "The speed of Voxel Q is more than a factor of 100 relative to a (Sun) Sparc II processor," Talton told SCAN. "Given the large volumes acquired through spiral scanning and volumetric MR acquisition, that type of processing power is essential both for image quality and interactivity."

DDD had OEM supply agreements with several medical imaging companies, including Shimadzu. This effort will continue under Picker in the same way that Oxford continued to sell MRI magnets to other vendors after Siemens purchased a controlling equity hare in that component supplier, Smith said.

"All the major companies buy parts and components from each other. We are a component company. We don't build acquisition devices, nor do we wish to," he said.

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