May 23, 2008 - Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a new, single-exposure imaging tool that can be used to improve point-of-care medical and forensic imaging by empowering front line clinicians with no specialized training to detect and assess, in real time, the severity of bruises and erythema, regardless of patient skin pigmentation or available lighting.
Researchers developed a narrowband filter mosaic that will expand the uses and functionality of multispectral imaging - a technology that enables subsurface characterization. The new mosaic narrowband filter functions at four or more wavelengths from visual to infrared with 20 nm bandwidth in a single exposure. The wallet-size mulitspectral imaging system could offer significant cost savings over currently available imaging systems.
In addition to assessing bruises and erythema, the filter could potentially offer a reliable, low-cost method to instantaneously classify military targets, sort produce, inspect product quality in manufacturing, detect contamination in foods, perform remote sensing in mining, monitor atmospheric composition in environmental engineering, and diagnose early stage cancer and tumors.
The technology was developed in Georgia Tech's Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) as part of a project to design a portable erythema and bruise-detection technology that will enhance early prevention and diagnosis of pressure ulcers, a secondary complication for people with impaired mobility and sensation.
The Georgia Tech researchers said annual Medicare spending for treatment of pressure ulcers is conservatively about $1.34 billion. They said early detection of erythema can prevent progression into more serious Stage III or Stage IV pressure ulcers.
The filter mosaic can be conveniently laminated with imaging sensors used in digital cameras. With a patent pending, CATEA researchers are currently seeking collaborative or financial support to further develop and design the device.
"Although multispectral imaging has matured into a technology with applications in many fields, clinicians and practitioners in these fields have generally stayed away from it due to extremely high costs and lack of portability," said Dr. Stephen Sprigle, director of CATEA and professor of industrial design and human physiology. "Now, the possibilities are plentiful."
A unit of the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech, CATEA is an applied research center promoting independence and participation of people with disabilities through assistive technology and environmental access.
For more information: www.gatech.edu