Nobody likes a dental procedure, especially one that requires moldable silicone impressions; the process feels uncomfortable, and worse, it can sometimes yield inaccurate results. Professor Douglas P. Hart ME ’85 and his startup, Brontes Technologies, offer a less sloppy, more accurate solution in the form of the Lava Chairside Oral Scanner.
The current COS is a toothbrush-sized wand that a dentist moves around a patient’s mouth, taking photos of their teeth from various angles. The result: an accurate 3D image of the patient’s teeth, with no clean-up required.
At first, the development of the COS’s imaging technology did not have anything to do with dentistry or orthodontics. Hart and a team of researchers with a grant from the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) in Taiwan developed the scanner to better illustrate animated versions of actors’ facial expressions.
Hart foresaw other practical uses for the 3D imaging technology, which he saw as “a whole new way of thinking about imaging. You’re not just using a camera passively, it’s an interaction between the camera and software talking to each other. I was so convinced this was a great idea, I dropped the contract from ITRI and refocused.”
After his success with the COS, Hart has refocused his attention yet again, this time on the use of 3D imaging technology for measuring ear devices. “I don’t know of any better way to make an impact than improving the health of millions of people,” says Hart.