Monday, February 4, 2013

Swanson inspires with OCT review at Laser Marketplace Seminar

In his presentation on optical coherence tomography (OCT) during the 2013 Laser Marketplace Seminar (at Photonics West), Eric Swanson, serial entrepreneur and publisher of OCTnews, provided a comprehensive tour of OCT applications and implementations -- the vast majority of them biomedical. Swanson is a fantastic spokesperson for OCT thanks not only to his pioneering role in its development, but also to his tracking and analysis of its progress. For instance, he outlined the ROI of government support for OCT by discussing the technology's impact on the economy in terms of dollars and jobs, and on patient care (one OCT scan happens every second, he said).
But OCT's overall trajectory continues to climb, and Swanson predicts that gastrointestinal imaging will be its next big success. Yes, he is associated with a company (NinePoint Medical) commercializing this application, but he bases his prediction on analysis of metrics including market needs, technology maturity, and publications to date. Other applications, too, will surely benefit from the size reduction enabled by chip-based OCT (pursued by Tornado Spectral Systems, and others), which promises to dramatically reduce cost as well. 
An audience member worried aloud that physicians may be overwhelmed by OCT data they don’t know how to interpret, but Swanson waived off that concern saying that the same concerns existed in ophthalmology and cardiology markets early on. 
Swanson pointed out that of the continually increasing number of companies involved in OCT, more than 40% are associated with government-funded research; and he suggested that companies interested in commercializing technology partner with such researchers. Good news for small business: He also noted that 78% of OCT companies are startups.

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