It came down to CMOS versus CCD, the government’s technology transfer program and the desire of one engineer to develop a new generation of dental radiography systems.
What happened was this: In the early 1990s David Schick, CEO and founder of Schick Technologies, read an article about superceding chargecoupled devices, or CCDs – semiconductor chips that were expensive to make. The gist of the article was creating a digital imager utilizing something other than a CCD chip. The movement was toward utilizing CMOS – a metal oxide semiconductor chip, easy and less expensive to make, and offering better yield and better resolution than the CCD.
Schick took advantage of the government’s 1996 technology transfer program between the military and commercial technology applications, and acquired a license for CMOS technology through Jet Propulsion Labs. He introduced the first digital CMOS x-ray sensor in 1998.
“We were able to create the first high resolution, lower-cost digital X-ray sensor on the market as well as a larger-size sensor,” says Schick’s brother, Eli, a company director. “Our concept for the dentist is to make it turnkey and not change the way the dentist traditionally has operated. This digital X-ray sensor connects to a PC and you can have an image in three seconds, (it traditionally takes three minutes). What we’re selling is greater efficiency, and up to 90 percent less radiation, which makes it more compelling for the dentist and for the patient.”
And this is how Schick Technologies employed the capabilities of digital technology and applied these to dental diagnostics. Now forming the foundation of the company’s CDR line – Schick’s core product line – the technology developed by Schick has been seen as revolutionary in the digital radiography arena.
“Now 96 percent of our business is in the dental market,” says Eli Schick. “We’re the number one digital dental radiology company in the United States and we’re the only U.S. company that manufactures its own sensors.”
Thousands of dentists around the world have embraced Schick Technologies as the only name in digital radiography. Its facility meets ISO 9000 standards for product development, operations, quality assurance, customer service and corporate commitment to quality.
The company’s line of products includes:
• accuDEXA bone mineral density (BMD) assessment system, providing physicians with a fast, easy-to-use, and highly precise method of identifying those at risk for osteoporosis.
• CDRPan, the real-time digital panoramic system that retrofits to existing panoramic systems.
• USBCam, the first intra-oral dental camera to provide full motion video and high definition via a standard USB port.
CDR (Computed Dental Radiography)
CDR(r) is a computerized imaging system that utilizes an electronic sensor instead of X-ray film. The sensors produce sharp and clear images that appear almost instantly on a computer screen.
Schick Technologies’ revolutionary active pixel sensor (APS) with CMOS technology delivers the highest image resolution available. Its new universal serial bus (USB) remote module provides operators with unparalleled portability; a fully customizable, practice-friendly software is easy to use and is packed with powerful diagnostic features.
The CDR Software seamlessly integrates with existing practice management systems and allows full control over Schick’s digital sensors. X-ray images can be manipulated with a wide variety of built-in processing tools, annotated with clinical comments, and saved on disk for electronic transfer by modem or long-term archival storage. Utilizing this software, underexposed radiographs can be corrected and accurate calibrated measurements can be taken. The software also is fully compatible with Schick’s CDRCam intraoral camera.
Equipped with the company’s active pixel sensors, CDR delivers superior images instantly with no chemicals to handle, no hassles with duplicating images, and exposes patients to far less radiation than film. The CDRPAN (for panoramic systems) is available for many panoramic machines. CDRPan offers the benefits of digital imaging and provides a perfect fit for an existing panoramic unit.
More than 28 million people in the United States are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Using dual X-ray absorptiometry technology, the accuDEXA BMD assessment system provides the quickest, most convenient, and cost-effective bone density exam available.
accuDEXA, explains Eli Schick, was developed in 1997 out of a relationship with Merck, which was working on an osteoporosis drug but recognized the need for testing devices within primary care facilities. Merck was interested in tapping Schick for its technology expertise; the company at the time had developed a digital X-ray detector for $10,000; the machines used by Merck, says Eli Schick, cost $100,000.
What developed was accuDEXA, a peripheral device that can assess risk fracture from the phalanx of the middle finger. This BMD value is a relative indicator of bone density elsewhere in the body. accuDEXA BMD estimates also can be used as an aid to the physician in determining fracture risk. Additionally, phalangeal density tests have shown in studies with radiographic absorptiometry to be more predictive than both forearm and spine BMD tests in predicting vertebral deformity.
The accuDEXA BMD assessment system impacts the diagnosis of low BMD like no other system. The speed and simplicity of the exam brings unprecedented convenience to the operator, and comfort to the patient. Its cost-effectiveness makes it possible for all doctors to offer the procedure to at-risk patients – even before early symptoms manifest.
Small in size, accuDEXA is packed with sophisticated technology. The primary convenience for the patient is the fact that the exam takes place in the doctor’s office, not at an unfamiliar, off-site location. Secondly, accuDEXA doesn’t require the removal of garments or the application of gels. This makes the exam that much more fast and comfortable. The secret to accuDEXA is a patented, ultra-sensitive digital imaging sensor that provides BMD assessment in seconds. The results are achieved using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), the industry standard for assessing BMD.
Onto the next frontier
Posting third-quarter gains (a rise in net income of 82 percent) the $25 million company has embarked on a technological journey that proves to take it to the next threshold of innovation.
“We are pleased to report our ninth consecutive quarter of operating profit,” said David Schick in discussing the third quarter report. “We believe that these results reflect the growing acceptance of our industry leading products as well as our outstanding operational and cost efficiencies. We believe that Schick Technologies is well positioned to benefit from continued strength in the digital dental market.”