WASHINGTON – A portable tool designed to ease the suffering associated with patients being probed for a vein uses digital light processing (DLP) technology to help medical personnel find and see a vein for IVs, blood work and other sticky medical procedures.
The “VeinViewer” is among a range of embedded applications being touted by Texas Instruments as it expands the reach of DLP technology and its DLP “LightCrafter” evaluation platform. The device works by shining near-infrared light on a patient’s skin to illuminate veins. The light is absorbed by blood and is reflected by the surrounding tissue.
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After the image is processed, a sensor projects an image of the patient’s veins on, say, the back of the hand, so that a practitioner can spot a good vein. The patient’s skin essentially serves a projection screen.
Along with IR light, LightCrafter’s also supports visible light. TI said its other DLP platforms support ultraviolet light.
Mariquita Gordon, business manager for Texas Instruments’ DLP Embedded unit, said the latest version of the LightCrafter kit is also being used to develop security applications like 3-D measurement for fingerprinting and for facial scanning. Other DLP products can be used for intelligent lighting and head-up displays for automotive applications.
Medical device makers have developed several generations of the VeinViewer using the Texas Instruments’ evaluation platform. The LightCrafter 2.0 platform incorporates feedback from a range of device makers, Gordon said.
A related dental application could use the light source to take 3-D images of teeth, replacing current molds used to make replacement dental work. Gordon said the application could allow dental labs to precisely replicate teeth much faster than the current method, which can often take weeks.
Dallas-based Texas Instruments said it expects to announce the next generation of LightCrafter during the Photonics West conference in February 2013. TI's DLP LightCrafter sells for $599.