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June 30, 2014 | Tom Ballard

Work on new SBIR starts today at 3rd Dimension Technologies

3rd DimensionBy Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

There’s good news for the team at 3rd Dimension Technologies, a company focused on developing products utilizing three-dimensional holography.

The 11-year old enterprise located in Knox County’s Fairview Technology Center has just been notified of its latest Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program award. This one, amounting to $188,000, is from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Work starts today (July 1).

“The idea is to build a virtual anatomy table,” according to David Page, the company’s Chief Software Architect. In fact, the NIH announcement lists the project title as “Holographic Virtual Anatomy Table.”

So, what is a holographic table?

Page describes it as a tool to enhance the education of medical students through the use of holography, rather than actual bodies, in the teaching experience.

“It’s tough for medical schools to find cadaver or human bodies with the specifics of what they are trying to teach,” he says, describing a tumor in a particular place in an organ as an example.

With the device that 3rd Dimension is labeling as its “HoloHuman,” a medical school can create a three-dimensional table where the students can see a visualization of the specific disease, plan for the surgery, and hone their surgical skills, all without the need for a cadaver.

We first profiled 3rd Dimension two years ago and provided an update about a year ago when it won an SBIR from the U. S. Air Force for its “W3DGE,” shorthand for Warfighter Three-D Gaming Environment device. The latter is a game-based trainer for an advanced tactical fighter.

To the average reader, these two applications – training medical students and training pilots – might seem very different with the exception of the educational piece. In fact, Page says the core of the technology is the same as is 3rd Dimension’s business approach.

Both projects involved a software partner. For the W3DGE, it was Lockheed Martin that had the flight simulator software. In the case of the holographic table, it is a New York-based company named BioDigital that has the human anatomy software.

“Our goal with the NIH SBIR is to do a technical feasibility study,” Page says, adding that it is a confirmation of the technological approach in Phase I, not a market feasibility. “We want to get an anatomy solution of interest to the market in Phase II.”

The company will be looking at things such as the height and other design details of the table and the specifics of things that need to be visualized.

The NIH Phase I will run about six months or so, Page believes.

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