San Francisco startup builds inexpensive endoscopy device

A San Francisco startup is plowing ahead with the development of a low-cost endoscopic device at a fraction of the price of products currently on the market. Such an advance could give Olympus and other competitors a run for their money, but the company's co-founder insists he'll pitch it in emerging markets.

As Wired reports, EvoTech developed what it has dubbed EvoCam. And at $2,500, the endoscope system would be far cheaper than the $50,000 average price tag for the more high-tech devices already on the market. Co-founder Moshe Zilversmit, who has a biomedical engineering degree, said his device cuts costs by shaving off extras and focusing on basic imaging.

For example, it uses an off-the-shelf camera module slightly better than a smartphone's. Additionally, EvoCam functions through software on a basic laptop instead of a dedicated computer and complex imaging processing software. It can also rely on solar power if needed, and EvoTech would train doctors through documents and videos over the web, the article notes.

The project is serious enough to have attracted funding from MIT and elsewhere. And Zilversmit said his team will seek 510(k) clearance for the device, but rather than sell it in the U.S., EvoTech will use 510(k) clearance to help market the device in poorer countries. The idea is that FDA clearance will show doctors in emerging markets that the device met rigorous safety standards and can offer quality pictures just like more expensive alternatives, according to the story.

EvoTech recently refined its EvoCam design and is already testing it in places including Uganda and India. The company stands to gain by offering a low-cost endoscopic alternative in emerging markets, something that larger rivals haven't necessarily embraced. And once it obtains FDA clearance, EvoTech could become a competitor to watch if it chooses to compete with Olympus and its rivals in the U.S. and other developed markets.

- read the Wired story

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