Skin cancer camera selling like hotcakes
The fight against skin cancer has just gotten a little easier with a new camera designed by Kiwi technicians.
MoleMap, a melanoma surveillance company, has launched a camera and software system it developed in-house to photograph potential skin cancer more accurately and easily.
The camera was unveiled in May at a world congress on demoscopy in Brisbane, where it sold out immediately.
MoleMap chief executive Adrian Bowling expects to sell hundreds of cameras each year, mainly to doctors needing simple technology to snap and store images of suspicious moles.
"It has a worldwide demand. We have a distributor in the US who plays in this space... They've done their market research and they think we got, for the lifetime of this particular camera, probably 5-10,000 units."
He said the camera was developed initially because the commercial cameras MoleMap was adapting would regularly change.
"We were always having to modify our design to keep up to date with their technology.
"And on top of that, when you use a commercially available camera, they have all this flexibility and all these buttons and menus, and it's just a nightmare when you wanted to get a nurse or doctor to use it. It was just too hard."
So four years ago MoleMap set about developing a simpler version, initially using engineers out of GPS system manufacturer Navman.
Although it is manufactured by a short-run specialist in the US, Bowling says the camera is Kiwi-designed, "right from the camera computer chip upwards". The electronic boards are Kiwi-made and New Zealand-based company CodeBlue provides IT support.
It sells for about $3000 including software.
While MoleMap plans to target the US and Europe, it expects Australasia to be the camera's biggest market, given its high rate of skin cancer. More than 300 New Zealanders die of melanoma each year.
Bowling said the camera would provide useful additional revenue to its main business, which now has nearly 50 clinics in New Zealand, Australia and the US.
The clinics, which "store and forward" images to dermatologists for diagnosis, see around 30,000 patients a year and generate an annual turnover of about $8 million.
Bowling said there was a lot of growth potential in the US but the company needed to develop its American and Australian markets before entertaining any thoughts of going public.
"We did [think about it] at one stage, but I think we've got to grow a bit bigger before we do that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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