Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Siemens, Disney Team Up For Revolution In Imaging (NOTE THE DATE!!!)

Having children means that at some time in your life, you are required to make a pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida, so you may pay homage to Mickey and company. Having done so several times before, we opted to visit Universal Studios instead, and found it quite enjoyable. The rides (with the exception of several killer roller-coasters) are just a half-notch below those of Disney World in quality, but the park is much more manageable, and the details on the movie-set-like environment are very well done. Universal has an Express system that lets one go to the front of the line, and that saved us a great deal of time. Yes, one usually has to pay for this, but since we were staying in a Universal hotel, we got it free. Contrast this with Disney's Fast Pass system, whereby one has to race in to get a limited number of passes dished out each day. We did go over to Epcot for one day, and the Fast Passes for the new "Soarin'" ride were gone well before we arrived that morning. Universal's Express might be less "fair" financially, but I still like it, especially after waiting over two hours to ride the 4 minute 42 second Soarin' thing. (Which was probably worth the wait, by the way...)

Whilst at Disney, I was rather shocked to see that venerable old AT&T no longer sponsors Spaceship Earth, which is now paid for by Siemens. I think we can now safely say that Siemens now has the biggest ball(s) in the industry...

I was prompted to learn more about this marriage of giants, and a brief search yielded quite a reward. Here is the text of a press-release from today:

Siemens and Disney Unite to Revolutionize Medical Imaging

Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Apr 1, 2008

In an unprecedented alliance, electronics and health-care giant Siemens AG will combine efforts with Disney Corporation, well known for theme parks and movie productions, to take medical imaging to the next step in its evolution.

"Disney and Siemens are two of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, both known for their relentless commitment to innovation. We look forward to working with Disney to grow our relationship and realize the potential of two great companies. This new relationship creates an ideal opportunity to demonstrate Siemens’ innovations to our customers, while also strengthening the Siemens brand in a memorable and relevant way. Viewing medical images, such as CAT (Computed Axial Tomography) scans or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) exams has been limited by our 20th Century-based technology. No matter how fast the computers get, or how sharp the image may appear, we are still seeing only a shadow of what is truly present within the body," notes George Nolen, President & CEO, Siemens Corporation. "With the advanced visualization techniques of Disney's Pixar division, as well as their expertise in flight simulation as applied to various attractions, we are now able to actually place the physician virtually within the body. The most microscopic of processes will be visible to the eye from this vantage point. This certainly represents a new era in imaging."
Robert Iger, Disney President and CEO, agrees. "Our scientists and engineers have worked closely with their counterparts at Siemens to create this absolutely unprecedented system. The imager actually becomes part of the image!"
The system, code-named IPACAC, or Immersion Picture Achiving, Control, And Communication, resembles an aircraft cockpit more than a conventional viewing, or PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System), station. Controls include a joystick with force-response feedback, haptic interface with virtual gloves sporting tactile feedback technology, and dual-DLP projectors which yield a three-dimensional image with the appropriate polarized eyewear. Mechanisms remniscent of aircraft simulators move the seat for further nonvisual clues as to the viewer's "position" and transit within the body.
"We've actually been testing a larger scale, non-3D version on the crowds for many years over at the old "Wonders of Life" pavilion, says Iger. "What we learned there has been invaluable in this latest effort."
Other large corporations had no comment other than to point out the date of this press release.
Siemens AG (NYSE:SI) is one of the largest global electronics and engineering companies with reported worldwide sales of $107.4 billion in fiscal 2006. Founded 160 years ago, the company is a leader in the areas of Medical, Power, Automation and Control, Transportation, Information and Communications, Lighting, Building Technologies, Water Technologies and Services and Home Appliances. With its U.S. corporate headquarters in New York City, Siemens in the USA has sales of $21.4 billion and employs approximately 70,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Eleven of Siemens' worldwide businesses are based in the United States. With its global headquarters in Munich, Siemens AG and its subsidiaries employ 480,000 people in 190 countries.

This is pretty big, folks. I'm picturing something like a hyped-up version of the "PACS Station of the Future" that GE did for Eliot Siegel a few years back as shown at RSNA:

I'm assuming that all those rides I took on Body Wars was part of Disney's research into this product:

It's nice to have been part of such a big project. And all the while I thought they were just taking me for a ride. Which is a good thing on a day like today. Have a happy one.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Just saw your April Fool's Day posting about Siemens and Disney. Since I'm with Siemens and you're a radiologist, I think we both can agree that it's pretty important that people get the right medical information from the Internet (or at least that they don't get the wrong info). With April Fools Day now over, we ask that you remove the false posting. I'd hate for consumers or the FDA to get completely inaccurate information about a topic as important as medical imaging. Look forward to your feedback. Esra Ozer, Siemens Corporation, New York