Artificial Intelligence in X-ray Imaging Technologies

26 Jul

Dr. Karim S. Karim

Interview with Dr. Karim S. Karim, PhD, PEng, MBA, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of KA Imaging

By Erika Wu, Business Development Representative, LSN

Dr. Karim S. Karim, PhD, PEng, MBA, is the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of KA Imaging. Karim has developed novel X-ray imaging devices and systems since 1998 and has founded multiple startups in the past two decades. He is also a Professor of Engineering at the University of Waterloo where he has raised more than $15M in research grant funding, trained over 40 PhD and MASc students, has co-authored 250+ publications and 50+ patents. Some of the pixel circuit technology he developed during his PhD is now used in ultrasonic fingerprint sensors in mobile phones and tablets.

Erika Wu: How is artificial intelligence incorporated into your product, and where is KA Imaging now?

Dr. Karim S. Karim: KA Imaging is a spin-off company from the University of Waterloo in Canada and specializes in developing innovative X-ray imaging technologies and systems to create solutions for the medical, veterinary and non-destructive test industrial markets. Our vision is innovative X-ray everywhere and our mission is to enable our employees the freedom to innovate and create high performance products, for our customers, using cutting edge advances in X-ray technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a critical part of ongoing innovation in the X-ray imaging space – it has been shown to help clinicians improve diagnostic accuracy and it has also been used to improve X-ray image quality. Our flagship product is the Reveal 35C, the world’s first portable, single-exposure, dual-energy X-ray detector that enables early detection compared to traditional X-ray solutions. Reveal is vendor-agnostic and can be retrofit onto any fixed or portable X-ray machine. What this means for clinicians is that they can instantly become more effective and efficient with their time recognizing diseases earlier and with greater confidence. What this means for patients is better outcomes so they can go home sooner and safely. Unlike standard X-ray, dual-energy X-ray techniques from our flagship product, Reveal 35C, leverage the wealth of spectral data that is present yet hidden in each conventional X-ray spectrum to achieve better bone and tissue contrast. AI algorithms can leverage this spectrally separated data to achieve more accurate image interpretation and analyses compared to AI algorithms that use only the data obtained from a standard X-ray detector.

We are actively seeking funding up to $25M USD in a Series B financing round. We are also looking for strategic OEM/integrator and distribution partnerships to grow our sales channels in North America and internationally. The Reveal 35C is FDA-cleared, Health Canada-approved, TGA Australia-approved, and is expected to be cleared for sale in Europe next year. Recently, we signed up Alpha Imaging as a distribution partner in the USA as well as a number of international distributors in Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan. Reveal 35C was also recognized as a Technology Breakthrough by Premier, a leading technology-driven healthcare improvement company, uniting an alliance of more than 4,100 US hospitals and 200,000 other providers and organizations to transform healthcare. Reveal 35C was also listed in the 2021 WHO Compendium of Innovative Health Technologies.

Erika Wu: If you could describe AI in three words, what would they be? What is a piece of advice you’d give to startup CEOs?

Dr. Karim S. Karim: AI is transformative, helpful, and inevitable. My advice is, “People before things always” or alternately, “Put people ahead of other stuff.” People may forget the content of a conversation you had, but they rarely forget the feeling you’ve left them with, so choose your words and actions wisely.

Erika Wu: What are some challenges you’ve learned from and how have they impacted the future of KA Imaging?

Dr. Karim S. Karim: The medical device field is very unusual because you have to promote your product as innovative to investors and incremental to regulatory bodies simultaneously. Jokes aside, for a technology to translate into a really innovative product, your product must do everything the existing market leader is doing and still improve something. This is why Reveal 35C is simultaneously the world’s best X-ray detector and the world’s first portable dual energy X-ray detector. Our team worked hard to achieve this so that ultimately, we would have a chance to replace every X-ray detector in the world with a Reveal 35C. So our staff designed Reveal 35C to use the same dose, the same X-ray source, and the same clinical workflow as a standard X-ray detector, and we put the entire product into a package that looks, weighs and feels like a standard X-ray detector. Yet, the user can get two extra bone and soft tissue dual-energy X-ray images in addition to the standard X-ray image simultaneously using only one exposure. Reveal 35C is highly innovative because it uses the existing information in the X-ray spectrum (which is ignored by standard X-ray) and provides this to both clinicians and AI software for enhanced decision-making.


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