Girl in dentistry

A dental intraoral camera is a multi-purpose imaging device first introduced in the 1990’s.  Originally the technology was used for taking pictures of teeth and gums for documentation. Now the application space includes diagnosing dental conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease, 3D optical measurement systems for tooth repair and corrective braces, and patient education.  The ability to provide high quality images in real time along with a diagnosis or during a restoration procedure significantly improves patient outcomes.

Image quality is a top priority.  Designing a high-performance intraoral camera relies on integrating a compact image sensor, precision optics, and an illumination system into a housing a little larger than a pen.  Balancing product specifications such as resolution, depth of field and field of view requires a design approach that will accurately characterize individual components and determine performance criteria.

A leader in teledentistry was referred to Gray Optics at the start of a new product development project.  Having successfully launched and marketed their first product more than 4 years prior, they built a substantial market presence and brand known for high quality and value.  Operating primarily in a virtual capacity, they desired a development partner with deep domain experience in optical imaging system development.

Gray Optics utilized their product development process , to assess the technical viability of the product features that were required to differentiate in their client’s target market.  One of the first steps was to benchmark the performance of the existing product, including field of view, resolution, and depth of field.  Gray Optics utilized its internal testing capability to fully characterize the required parameters. From this analysis, Gray Optics was able to set the performance criteria that to design a totally new imaging module.

Doctor examining patient's teeth with intraoral camera

Leveraging advances in CMOS image sensor technology driven by consumer markets, medical companies such as this one can bring image resolutions of 1080p or greater to intraoral imaging.  While semiconductor companies offer a wide range of electronic components, matching a suitable high precision lens to an imaging sensor can be challenging. Parameters such as chief ray angle, distortion, and f/# are critical to achieving the required performance.

With  years of experience developing custom imaging systems, Gray Optics guided their client’s project through concept development and into product design.  This work included evaluating several different CMOS image sensor and lens combinations, measuring the performance of both the lens and sensor combined, evaluating illumination profiles from LEDs, and developing test a method to confirm performance

A close collaboration and flexible approach helped the client optimize their investment in new product development and led to a feeling that their small team has a partner with shared interest in success.

“The Gray Optics team have worked closely with us to develop a new medical camera. I was first impressed with the accuracy and reliability of their optical engineering services. Based on a positive first interaction, I expanded their role significantly, knowing that the technical research, testing and evaluation, and thoughtful advice they provide is essential for the success of our project.  And that says it pretty well!  With Gray Optics, I feel it’s “our project”.