When he was starting out his journey discovering the potential of 3D printing to serve real human needs, Jason, our 3DP4ME founder, did heaps of research on providers of new 3D ear scanning technology. Finally, Jason uncovered a treasure — Lantos Technologies, based in metro-Boston, Massachusetts. He called Lantos and began to share the 3DP4ME vision and was soon put in touch with Dr. Brian Fligor, Chief Development Officer at the time. From the start, Dr. Brian was eager to help 3DP4ME in any way that he could.
Lantos Technologies, Inc., is a Massachusetts-based early commercial medical device company that has developed a 3D Ear Scanning System based on intellectual property from MIT (Boston, MA). This 3D Ear Scanning System is FDA-cleared and is used to capture the unique geometry of an individual’s ears in a digital file, which is then transferred to an ear mold lab for digital manufacturing of custom ear devices, such as hearing aids, custom headphones, and custom hearing protection.
Images below, of the Lantos Technologies 3D ear scanner.
Over the span of nearly two years, Dr. Brian and Jason kept in touch. Jason sharing the challenges and victories we at 3DP4ME were experiencing, Dr. Brian sharing his insights and wisdom. Dr. Brian stressed the importance of staff training, because it will take time to learn how to use the 3D scanner effectively. The two finally met in person in Boston this October.
When they met, Jason got a tour of the Lantos Technologies offices and 3D printing lab, and he got to see their 3D scanning technology first hand and get a little training under his belt. Now, more then ever, Jason is excited for 3DP4ME to use the technology to provide more access to our clients.
Image above, the black “Balloon” membrane.
Image above, a solution cartridge.
Both of these are consumables used in the Lantos 3D Scanning System.
The Black “Balloon” is a single-person use conforming membrane. It is manufactured by Lantos Technologies and is at the core of the Lantos intellectual property. This membrane is placed over an endoscope/camera that is inside the handheld scanner, and then placed down the ear canal, to within 4 millimeters of the eardrum, by a trained operator.
Inside the handle of the handheld scanner is a solution cartridge, which is filled with an optical-filtering, water-based dye. This optical dye inflates the membrane once the membrane is placed in the ear canal. The inflating membrane conforms to all the nooks-and-crannies of the ear.
The camera is then extended and retracted inside the inflated membrane under operator control, taking pictures which map out the physical distance from the tip of the camera to the surface of the membrane with exceedingly high resolution (on the order of 10’s of microns).
The 3D Ear Scanning System software “stitches” together the raw picture images into a 3D Mesh/point cloud, and renders this surface-map of the ear into a compact digital file in .stl format (which is a universal file format for CAD software). Once the image-taking of the ear is complete, the camera retracts back into the handheld scanner and the membrane deflates and is withdrawn from the ear. The scanner collects over 100,000 data points, creating a 3D image of the unique geometry of the client’s ear.
With over 18,000 scans performed to date, there have been zero adverse events; based on this track record, the process is safe and comfortable.
Dr. Brian Fligor is now officially an advisor for 3DP4ME, providing his expertise in pediatric audiology and in modeling hearing aids from Lantos ear scans. He is a board certified pediatric audiologist, and prior to joining Lantos he was the Director of Diagnostic Audiology at Boston Children’s Hospital and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. He holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering (1997) and Ph.D. in Audiology (2002) from Boston University, and did a post-doctoral Fellowship in pediatric audiology at Harvard Medical School (2002-2004).
Learn more at www.lantostechnologies.com