In image at left, how augmented-reality-guided laparoscopy works:
Looking through a head-mounted display, the surgeon views a fully registered 3D image, which shows the 3D shapes acquired inside the patient’s body. Instruments can also be displayed inside the patient.

_________________________________________________InnerOptic Technology, a developer of medical devices, has landed not one but two major grants from the federal government to further its research and development.

The grants total nearly $700,000 and also means growth for InnerOptic, which plans to hire additional workers as a result.

The National Science Foundation awarded InnerOptic a $430,000 Phase II award to support further development of its “three-dimensional Laparoscope” device.

The device is designed to provide surgeons involved in minimally invasive procedures by displaying 3D data from inside the patient’s body.

The second grant is from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. It totals $264,000 and will be shared with the Research Triangle Institute.

“The National Science Foundation grant will allow us to pursue the general development of our 3D Laparoscope surgical system, including the design and construction of a fully-functional prototype that we can use in clinical trials of our product,” .Kurtis Keller, president and co-founder of the company, tells Local Tech Wire. “Work on this project entails significant software and hardware efforts, for which we will soon be
hiring new staff members.”

InnerOptic is teaming up with former researchers at MCNC which now are part of RTI on development of the second project.

“The NIH grant with RTI International has a much narrower focus on improving the we way we project light through the laparoscope system utilizing a new display device developer at RTI,” Keller says. “Researchers at RTI developed an ‘artificial eyelid’ array, composed of hundreds of micro-scale ‘shutters’ that can be individually controlled into various patterns.

“Such a technology is an ideal match for addressing InnerOptic’s need to project bright,
precise structured light patterns for depth extraction within the body,” he adds. “This grant will fund a joint effort to customize an artificial eyelid array for the 3D Laparoscope’s needs.”

InnerOptic will provide the specifics for the chip to control the eyelid while designing, building and implementing the hardware and software needed to integrate the two, Keller explains. RTI will design and fabricate the chip at its Triangle-based manufacturing facility.

According to RTI, the “transmissive optical device — will replace the current 2D video monitor with 3D visualization of the internal organs during surgery — The key to this capability is using light-enabled image acquisition and projection.”

Keller sees a bright future for the Laparoscope technology.

“Our 3D Laparoscope is the only one of its kind and we have exclusive license on the concept and technologies from UNC Chapel Hill,” he says. “We foresee 3D Laparoscopy taking on a similar stance in the field as 3D Ultrasound visualization did several years

InnerOptic was founded in 2002 and is developing two devices — the Laparoscope, which it has patented, and an optical cancer detection system on which a patent is pending.

“We are also currently developing an optical cancer detection system, which will be able identify cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions on the cervix and in the colon using light alone, reducing need for biopsies,” Keller says. The device will lead to “faster detection, higher survival rates and improved care.”