Israeli company modernizes X-ray machines with nanotechnology

FoxConn and SK Telecom invest in a company that wants to make X-rays affordable and available worldwide.

Digital transformation: Business modernization requires a new mindset

Nanox is bringing nanotechnology to medical imaging and hoping to expand access to healthcare at the same time.

The Israeli company is developing the Nanox.ARC and Nanox.CLOUD, a X-ray system that can take a full-body scan and then send the image to the cloud. The fully digital X-ray machine updates technology that was first discovered in 1895 by German physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who won the first Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of X-rays.

How it works

Although most medical images are stored in a digital format, the original scan is captured with an X-ray tube that uses a cathode-ray tube and an anode to produce an image. The cathode-ray tube shoots electrons at the anode which captures the electrons and directs them toward the object being scanned.

Ran Poliakine, the company's founder and CEO, compares the technological transition as similar to the shift from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs with similar gains in efficiency and power use. Poliakine said the Nanox.ARC uses nanotechnology and semiconductors to replace the cathode ray tubes in traditional machines.  

"We don't have to heat the semiconductor to take the scan. So we don't have to cool it back down either, so the power demand is much less," he said.  

In addition to the new hardware, Nanox has a cloud-based platform to make it easy to share the images.

Who will benefit from the technology?

Poliakine plans to use an imaging-as-a-service revenue model and provide the Nanox.ARC to medical centers and public clinics at no cost. Health services will pay by the scan. He said the average cost of a scan is $300 compared to Nanox's cost of less than $100 per scan.

Poliakine also said that ownership of the images will be determined based on the partner in each deal.

"Different countries will have different appetites for who owns the data and who monetizes it," he said.

Nanox also will license its technology to existing medical imaging companies.

SEE: AI in healthcare: An insider's guide (free PDF)

Partnerships are key to the Nanox strategy to capture the full benefit of affordable digital X-rays widely available to patients and healthcare systems. FoxConnjust made a $26 million investment in Nanox as part of a funding round that is aimed to support the development, commercialization, and deployment of the imaging system. Another Nanox investor is SK Telecom, South Korea's largest wireless company and a 5G provider. Nanox has offices in the US, Israel, Japan, and Korea. 

Making X-rays affordable and available

In many developing countries, there are very few X-ray machines and even fewer radiologists to interpret the images. Poliakine said his company's vision is to provide low-cost medical imaging to people who live in countries with no access to basic medical services.

"Regardless of your country of origin or strength of the healthcare system the you are in, you can get an annual medical imaging checkup," he said.

Poliakine said the company plans to place 15,000 X-ray units in communities around the world that lack access to basic medical screenings. He expects the machines to capture tens of thousands of images every day, which will go into the cloud.

"For the first time we will have an image bank of people from different countries with different health conditions, and this massive amount of images will create better diagnostic tools," he said.

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An Israeli company is modernizing the X-ray machine with nanotechnology to make medical imaging more affordable and available.

Image: Nanox