By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2018, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
The other day, Bob Hogrefe, CEO of Access Optics, posed this thought-starter: What is it that battlefield observation systems, minimally invasive robotic surgery, and cellphones all have in common?
The answer? All three rely on very small compact imaging systems — systems that Bob and his business partner and wife, Pam, know a heck of a lot about. For two decades, Access Optics, the company they founded in Broken Arrow has been providing exceptional micro optics and medical devices to the leading manufacturers of surgical imaging systems across the world.
Like all successful entrepreneurs, the Hogrefes are constantly exploring advances in optical technology. Their drive for applying optical technology to solve bigger and bigger challenges is taking them deeper into applications for the medical industry and into new applications for the US Military and Department of Homeland Security.
Access Optics is coupling their own ISO-certified micro-optics technology with leading edge camera technology based on complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chips.
“People talk about paradigm shifts,” Bob said. “The CMOS sensor is the disruptive technology that’s driving a revolution in surgical imaging and on the battlefield.”
CMOS chips are low-power, cost-effective, and readily manufactured in very high volumes.
The result? Tiny, very powerful cameras that don’t require much battery and are economical enough to be disposable. For example, micro-cameras suitable as an attachment to every soldier’s helmet to provide remarkable detail of what’s going on in battle zones.
Instead of very expensive rugged equipment, high-powered cameras that are field-replaceable at a reasonable cost are an operations and budgetary breakthrough for our military and Homeland Security.
Disposable CMOS-based cameras that are powerful enough for minimally invasive surgery make the medical industry’s goal of highly accurate and reliable disposable surgical scopes not only possible but probable.
“In a surgical setting, the CMOS sensor allows us to move from building instruments that had to be reusable to be economical, to designing systems that are so low in cost you can throw them away after a single use,” Bob said.
“On the medical side, we’ve already gone from very expensive and bulky and indefinitely reusable equipment to the stuff of yesterday’s science fiction — surgical robots,” Bob said. “Today, even wilder concepts are not only possible, but already on the drawing board, such as doing surgery with devices that go in through the patient’s mouth and down their esophagus. For these, the surgeons look on through a high-resolution disposable surgical micro-camera to make and close incisions from the inside. We are already working this area.”
The bottom line? Leading companies in the medical industry come to Broken Arrow to design groundbreaking solutions directly with Access Optics. That’s because Access Optics has an earned reputation for quality, advanced technology, and a commitment to solutions that change outcomes radically for the better.
And isn’t that exactly the image of innovation that we want our state to have?