Editor’s note: One never knows when or how inspiration will strike. Online video of surgeries on YouTube inspired Durham company Physcient to pursue its lead medical device. WRALTechWire Insiders can read about this device and other health care innovations presented at CED’s Tech Venture Conference in an exclusive report from WRALTechWire’s Frank Vinluan.

RALEIGH, N.C. – Technology inspiration comes from all sorts of places. For Hugh Crenshaw, it came from watching YouTube.

Those who are so inclined can find videos of various medical procedures uploaded to YouTube. Crenshaw and his colleagues at Durham company Physcient spent countless hours watching them. They came to realize that whenever there was a tricky part of the surgery, such as multiple attempts to do a certain part of a procedure, those attempts were cut out of the video.

“If they edit it out of the surgery, that’s the part we want to focus on,” Crenshaw said in an interview with WRALTechWire.

What Crenshaw discovered was that surgeons were having problems cutting the tissue that they wanted to cut without cutting the tissue they did not want to cut. The idea for a medical device was born.

Physcient has developed a surgical dissector that differentiates tissue and allows surgeons to separate tissues more easily and more quickly. The company’s first target is plastic surgery, which can involve removing tissue in one part of the body and moving it to another part of the body. The second target is laparoscopic surgery. Physcient aims to address a wide range of surgeries that require dissection, including urological, gynecological, orthopedic, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeries.

Crenshaw declined to get into specifics about how the surgical dissector differentiates between tissue saying that he’s keeping those details under wraps for now. But by distinguishing between different types of tissue, the device can reduce the risk of slicing a blood vessel or nicking the bowel – complications that put a patient at greater risk, extend hospital stays and add to medical costs. From a surgical standpoint, Crenshaw says surgeons who have used the device tell him it allows them to perform surgery in ways that they would not have been able to do before.

The device is still in testing. So far, the company reports success with the dissector in surgeries on live animals. Crenshaw said the device could be classified as a class I device, which would not require Food and Drug Administration clearance. The company’s goal is to get the product into manufacturing within 12 months. Physcient is in the midst of a $1.5 million series A round. The company has closed on $810,000 from angel investors so far. Crenshaw said he hopes to close on $630,000 “in the next few weeks.”

It’s a change from where Physcient a short time ago. The company was originally focused on developing a chest spreader, a medical device that opens up the rib cage for abdominal procedures in a way that does not break bones or tear tissue.

Crenshaw said that Physcient has not abandoned the chest spreader, which still addresses a market need. But over the last 18 months, Crenshaw said that Physcient, in partnership with a “big medical device company” he declined to identify, decided to brainstorm other medical device opportunities that could get to market faster. That’s how Crenshaw ended up watching a lot of YouTube videos. Now he says Physcient is eying a market that could be more than $2 billion worldwide.

Several other companies presented at the CED conference with new health care-related technologies. Here’s a sample from day one.

  • Arcato Laboratories

Most of the roughly 600 attendees at CED’s Tech Venture Conference haven’t had to deal with braces for their teeth in years, maybe decades. But Arcato Laboratories CEO Bob Jordan bets that they remember the experience. He aims to bring relief to the more than 2 million U.S. orthodontic patients that spend more than $10 billion on braces and other products each year. Many of these patients experience pain from their braces.

Greensboro-based Arcato’s lead product is a medicated wax that incorporates an over-the-counter anesthetic to provide relief over several hours. The wax reduces the friction between the bracket and the cheeks and the anesthetic is released steadily over time. The co-inventor of OraWax is Michael Jay, a professor of molecular pharmaceutics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Arcato’s chief scientific officer.

Arcato is raising about $1 million. Jordan says that Arcato already has a term sheet from the Piedmont Angel Network and the firm is also negotiating with three other investor groups.

  • Keona Health

Medical practices spend countless hours on the phone dealing with matters for which they can’t bill. It takes time and costs money. Keona Health provides an online app that triages these inquiries, giving medical professionals more time to spend with patients. CEO Oakkar Oakkar says Keona’s system can take a 50 minute phone triage down to a minute.

In 2011, the Chapel Hill company was awarded a National Institutes of Health SBIR phase I grant with which the company showed it could cut the call time for physician practices by 43 percent. The company was also the recipient of a startup grant from NC IDEA. Last year, UNC Health Care became a pilot customer and Keona also added four more pilots. Those pilots will transition into commercial contracts this fall. Oakkar says Keona leading medical institutions, including Cleveland Clinic, Columbia Medical Center and Duke Health are also in talks with Keona about implementing the system. Oakkar said Keona will be pursuing a series A round of investment soon.

  • NeuroSpire

It sounds like science fiction but technology that can predict the effectiveness of an advertisement by measuring brain activity. Companies can already do this but a small study can cost $75,000 and the results take six weeks.

“We bring that to $5,000 with results in three days,” said Jake Stauch, CEO of NeuroSpire.

The Durham company that has developed a way for businesses to use brain scans for consumer research. Stauch had attended Duke University, where he also worked as a researcher at the Duke Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, work that included conducting brain-imaging studies. He dropped out of Duke to run NeuroSpire last year. So far, the company reports $70,000 in revenue and clients in more than 20 countries. NeuroSpire was also the recipient of an NC IDEA grant.

Stauch says that while the consumer applications have drawn business interest, the company is also looking ahead to additional applications of the technology, such as health care. Stauch said the technology could have applications in studying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression. For now, the company is raising $500,000, which will support the hiring of a sales team and an engineer for additional product development.

  • Novocor Medical Systems

Most people think of hypothermia as a bad thing but there are medical instances where chilling saves lives. In conditions such as cardiac arrest, traumatic brain injury, heat stroke or concussions, therapeutic hypothermia can limit injury.

Novocor’s technology uses an endothermic chemical reaction that works similar to the instant cold packs used for sports injuries.The Raleigh company’s patent-pending device quickly cools saline solution before it enters the body via IV tubing. The device works quickly, stays cold for up to 30 minutes and does not require external power. It is easily stored in an ambulance and can give emergency responders a quick way to induce therapeutic hypothermia.

Founder and CEO Tony Voiers recently closed on $1 million in financing. Voiers is aiming to raise another $500,000 to close the round. The A round will be used to complete the design optimization and obtain the necessary regulatory approvals for the product. A series B round would be needed to launch the product within two years.

  • Validic

Everyone can see that the universe of mobile health apps is expanding. Durham company Validic provides a way for health care companies to talk to communicate with the countless number of applications.

Validic takes all of the data from the various consumer, fitness, home health devices and medical devices and offers to a health care entity a single application programming interface. Instead of trying to integrate with all of these different applications, a health care system, insurance company or corporate wellness vendor just needs a single API connection through Validic. The company launched its platform in April. Co-founder and CEO Ryan Beckland said he has closed on a $760,000 equity investment led by entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.