It is official. The war for market domination between capsule endoscope manufacturers has started. At the recent Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2005 conference in Chicago, Olympus displayed its product. It seems that Olympus is planning to start marketing the product in Europe by the end of this year. The details of the product are as follows (taken from press release by Olympus):
(1) Technology of capsule endoscope
The capsule is 26mm long with an external diameter of 11mm. It features compact, low power-consumption imaging technology and wireless transmission technology.
(2) Capsule guidance system
This technology uses magnetism to freely control the capsule’s movements. Olympus is working on development in a joint effort with the Arai/Ishiyama Laboratory, Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University. The principle behind the technology calls for the creation of a uniform magnetic field in any direction (N/S Poles) by an external magnetic field generator using three pairs of opposing electromagnets arranged in three directions X, Y and Z (vertically, laterally and depths). The capsule endoscope can then be turned in any desired direction by means of its built-in magnet. The free directional magnetic field is then used to generate a rotating magnet field which rotates the capsule, generating thrust through the spiral structure on the capsule’s exterior. Since this allows free control of forward and reverse motion and motional direction, the capsule can be made to approach the part of the body to be inspected. The direction of observation can also be adjusted.
(3) Wireless power supply system
This technology provides an extracorporeal supply of the energy required for the capsule’s built-in compact image pickup device and image transmission from within the capsule. Coils located outside the body use electromagnetic induction to provide electric power to the receiving coils inside the capsule. This makes it possible to secure the electric energy needed for long-term observations and the instantaneous electric power needed for high frame-rate photography.
(4) Drug delivery system
Inside the capsule there is a deflatable balloon containing drugs fitted with a small valve that can be controlled by communications from outside the body. This allows drugs to be delivered freely at any given time or place.
(5) Body fluid sampling technology
There is also a negatively-pressurized space within the capsule for storing extracted body fluids using a small valve that can be controlled by communications from outside the body. This is useful for diagnosis and analysis because it allows free collection of body fluids.
(6) Self-propelled capsule
The body of the capsule can propel itself freely within the gastrointestinal tract because it is fitted with an a mechanism that serves as a propelling mechanism and requires no external driving apparatus. Olympus is currently working on the development of several types of propelling mechanisms, including a twin-spiral type and a caterpillar-type.
(7) Ultrasound capsule
The ultrasound capsule makes it possible to conduct ultrasound scanning from inside the body because it incorporates the necessary miniaturized functions within itself. Since it radiates ultrasound from inside the body cavities, it is expected to deliver higher-resolution ultrasound images with less attenuation than those obtainable from external ultrasonography.
The Olympus press release (Nov. 2004)…
The interview with Yoram Ashery, VP business development at Given Imaging (the manufacturer of PillCam) is located here. (Money quote: “I’m only prepared to say that we have a huge portfolio of patents: 300 international patent applications, of which 24 have been approved. You can assume that they’re not only for decoration.”)
Related: Olympus Medical Systems to Launch Advanced Ultrasonic Omnidirectional Endoscope.