SAN JOSE, Calif. Stryker Corp., a large medical electronics company, has struck an exclusive deal to use proprietary wireless technology from startup Amimon (Herzliya, Israel) for its operating room systems. The agreement marks a second major design win for the company which is the midst of a battle with multiple short-range, high bandwidth wireless technologies.
Stryker Corp. will use Amimon's 5 GHz variant of Wi-Fi for its endoscopy systems. The company has long sought a way to reduce wiring for its minimally invasive surgical systems.
"There are a lot of wires and tubing hanging around in the operating room," said William Chang, chief technology officer for Stryker Endoscopy, a $600 million division of the $6 billion company. The wires "can slow down surgeons, and they make it hard to keep the sterilization field clean, so we have been pushing for a wireless solution," he said.
Stryker explored various analog, 60 GHz and ultrawideband options for its systems before settling on Amimon. The Wi-Fi variant offered a mix of low latency (one millisecond) along with adequate bandwidth for transmitting uncompressed high def video and internationally available spectrum.
Analog options created too much ghosting, said Chang. The company also tested 60 GHz technology from SiBeam Inc. and ultrawideband from TZero Technologies as well as chips from more than one startup that has already shut down.
SiBeam's approach required direct line of sight, had problems with signal reflections and consumed a relatively large amount of power, Chang said. TZero's technology required compression to transmit high def video and had latency of about 100 milliseconds
Stryker will ship in early 2009 a wireless high definition display for operating rooms using Amimon's technology.
"This is only the starting point," said Chang. "We are going to transmit everything around the operating room from the camera to the display and the storage device--this will open up the whole medical field," he said.
The latency and bandwidth requirements of the operating room are very different from those of the consumer living room, Chang noted. Nevertheless, the design win adds two others for the startup—use in a digital TV from Sony and a transmitter for broadcast gear from IDX System Technology.
A handful of mainly top Japanese consumer companies are participating in an effort to define a standard for the Amimon technology. However, similar groups are also defining standards for the 60 GHz technology from SiBeam which recently received investments from Panasonic and Samsung.
Sony got several companies to rally around its short-range TransferJet technology based on ultrawideband, an approach backed by a number of startups. Other companies have their own versions of Wi-Fi tailored for high def video including Quantenna and Celano Communications which has snagged an investment from Cisco Systems.
At last year's CES all the various options were on display with demos and prototypes for each camp. More of the same is expected at this year's event in January as each camp vies for market traction.