3M's Lava Chairside Oral Scanner wins IDEA design award

July 24, 2008 -- Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and BusinessWeek magazine have announced the winners of the 2008 IDEA competition, formerly known as the Industrial Design Excellence Awards. The competition celebrates "the most innovative and exciting product and product concept designs of the year" according to program organizers. Among the winners, highlighted in the current issue of BusinessWeek (dated July 18), is the Lava Chairside Oral Scanner from 3M ESPE.

The Lava C.O.S. incorporates high-speed image processing and real-time modeling. Its wand contains a complex optical system, comprised of multiple lenses and blue LED cells.

The unit claims an entirely new method of capturing 3D data: 3M's 3D-in-Motion technology captures 3D data in a video sequence at a rate of approximately 20 3D data sets per second -- or close to 2,400 data sets per arch -- for an accurate, high speed scan.

And, the Lava models that data in real time, simultaneously displaying images of teeth on the touch-screen monitor. (By contrast, traditional point-and-click technologies rely on the warping of a laser or light pattern on an object to determine 3D data, and uses individual "snapshots" to assemble a model, according to 3M.) With this real-time visibility, a dentist can confidently and immediately assess whether enough information has been captured for a complete digital impression.

The compact wand weighs 14 ounces and its tip is 13.2 millimeters wide, enabling maneuverability inside the mouth.

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