A Complex X Ray Scanner That's Simplicity Itself

Vidar VXR-12 X-Ray Film Digitizer

Designer: Paradigm:design

Hospitals are tough on equipment. Fast-moving gurneys can ding anything in their paths. And hard-pressed technicians have little patience for gear that isn't easy to run. As cost pressures mount, no one in a hospital can spend time reading 100-page operating manuals for complex equipment.

So the folks at Paradigm:design in Philadelphia had quite a challenge in fashioning a new X-ray digitizer, a scanner that converts X-ray pictures into computer images that can be transmitted to specialists in other cities. They wanted a product that could sit out of harm's way on a counter and be virtually self-explanatory in its use. The result: the Vidar VXR-12.

Rival products require a technician to feed the X-ray film horizontally, as with a photocopier. That makes for slow processing and machines that take up lots of space. But in the VXR-12, the film slides down vertically, reducing friction and speeding up the process. Industrial Design Excellence Awards juror Seth Banks of GE Medical Systems calls this digitizer "as intuitive to use as it is pleasing to see."

With space at such a premium in hospital radiology labs, compactness was a major requirement for manufacturer Vidar Systems Corp. in Herndon, Va. The VXR-12 takes up about half the space of conventional units. And at 36 pounds, it can be moved easily. Vidar has packed it with electronics to link up with most host computers. What's more, the digitizer sells for about $16,000, at least $4,000 less than rival models. That makes for the kind of picture that's pretty to the eye of the toughest hospital cost-cutters.

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