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$1.6 million in a Series A round of financing this summer from a syndicate of Boston-area investors that includes Catalyst Health Ventures, Excel Venture Management, and Mass Medical Angels. For the next 10 months to a year, Azim said, Lantos will be working on taking the lab prototype of Lantos’s 3D ear-canal imaging system and developing a field prototype that ear specialists, called audiologists, can use in a small clinical trial. (Paley, who has since launched a seed-stage investment firm called Founder Collective, has been a sounding board for Azim’s ideas for Lantos, Azim said.)
If all goes as planned, Lantos’s imaging technology should provide a substantial leap forward for the multibillion-dollar global market for hearing aids. Indeed, the startup’s team has already met with top hearing aid makers such as Germany-based Siemens about the technology, Azim said.
To fit a person for a hearing aid today, audiologists fill a patient’s ear with a silicon gel that hardens into a mold. Often, the ear mold is shipped to a manufacturer that uses a 3D printer to replicate the shape for the patient’s hearing aid. Yet the problem, as Azim described it, is that such molds only capture one shape of a patient’s ear canal, which actually changes its shape as people move their heads and jaws. Because today’s molds don’t take those movements into account, the resulting hearing aids can lose their seal in the ear canal and cause irritating noise feedback.
Lantos might be able to solve such problems caused by poorly fitted hearing aids. For starters, its system is designed to take multiple 3D images from inside a patient’s ear canal, as he is moving. It might also be able to detect where the soft and boney tissues are in the ear, providing additional information to ensure that a patient’s hearing aid doesn’t lose its seal when he moves his head or jaw.
The system uses a flexible insert that expands inside of a patient’s ear. Inside the balloon-like insert are a liquid dye and a fiber-optic camera. The camera is supposed to capture 3D images of the ear by detecting the way light is absorbed in the dye. It’s the first medical application of the 3D imaging technology, which was originally developed to detect oil film thickness inside … Next Page »
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