Tele-tummy: U of S imaging tech brings personal inner space to your smartphone
Posted January 25, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- January 25, 2013
Saskatoon – A University of Saskatchewan research team has developed technology that promises to provide doctors a clearer, more complete picture of illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and cancer, ported right onto patients’ smartphones.
Khan Wahid, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, leads the team that is developing the new patent-pending technology for video endoscopy capsules.
“Doctors are not satisfied with the current image quality from endoscopy capsules. We are working to improve the technology in several ways, which will lead to more consistent, accurate diagnosis,” Wahid said.
Endoscopy capsules contain a video camera, computer chip, battery, light-emitting diode (LED) and a transmitter. Invented in 2001, they have become invaluable for doctors, allowing them to examine parts of the gastrointestinal tract that cannot be looked at any other way.
Wahid explained that one of the problems with endoscopy capsules is they can “jump” areas of tissue without imaging them, so doctors don’t get a continuous picture. Proposed solutions include robotic control systems or 3D imaging capability, but these require more on-board computing capacity, which draws more power. It’s a serious challenge in a device that measures only 11 millimetres by 26 millimetres.
To meet the challenge, Wahid and his team have developed algorithms to much more efficiently capture and process images, decreasing the workload of the onboard computer chip while increasing quality and the frame rate to provide images more frequently. This helps extend battery life, ensuring the capsule remains in operation throughout its eight-to-10-hour journey.
These advances should allow more complete, real-time diagnosis of gastrointestinal diseases, and may make it possible to add features to future endoscopy capsules.
Wahid and his team have also developed an alternative to the rather intrusive data recorder worn by patients after swallowing the capsule. Their solution is a mobile device application and a SIM-card sized adapter that transmits information directly to the patient’s smartphone.
With two patents pending, the U of S Industry Liaison Office (ILO) is evaluating ways of taking the technology to market, whether it be through licensing or a start-up enterprise.
Research work so far has been supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The ILO has also provided funding through their Forge Ahead Fund for Wahid and his team to develop a prototype.
For more information, contact:
Michael Robin, Research Communications Specialist