Micronics, Inc., a developer of point of care diagnostic technologies, has just been acquired by Sony Corporation, the consumer electronics giant. At a glance, this news may come as a surprise given Sony Corporation’s status as a consumer electronics manufacturer. After all, what does the technology behind a Blu-ray disc or Playstation have in common with modern diagnostic devices? Well, as it turns out, more than you might think.
Micronics is a developer of diagnostic products with a large number of patents related to microfluidic technology. To date, they have already commercialized a nucleic acid testing device platform for infectious disease detection using disposable assay cartridges. These cartridges can be fabricated using micro-scale and nano-scale etching technology, in much the same way that data is etched onto Blu-ray or other optical storage discs. It is likely that Sony sees an opportunity to translate some of its optical disc technology and manufacturing know how into the microfluidics field.
Interestingly, this is not Sony’s first foray into the life sciences arena. In February of last year Sony acquired iCyt Mission Technology, Inc., a producer of flow cytometers (see press release). In addition, since November of last year Sony Digital Audio Disc Corporation (DADC) has announced collaborations with at least three separate life sciences companies: RainDance, Quanterix and Caliper to advance their microfluidic technology.
So, it would appear that Sony is making a serious entry into the world of medical devices. It will be interesting to see what else they might adapt from their consumer portfolio for healthcare. If we’re lucky, the Sony Stethoscope Walkman may be coming just around the corner.