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In 1988, Martin Harris made significant breakthroughs in the design of confocal microscopes in his collaborative research with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). This led to the subsequent design and manufacture of the HBH desktop confocal microscope, which won a prestigious R&D100 Award in 1991.
Optiscan was formed in 1994 to further advance the continuing research and development activities being undertaken at that time by Martin Harris and Peter Delaney. The formation of the company introduced financial support for the development of miniaturised applications of the technology. As this progress continued, it became apparent that additional funding would permit Optiscan to accelerate its research and realise the vision of developing a miniaturised confocal microscope.
Optiscan Imaging Limited was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in August 1997, raising $3 million to provide the working capital to pursue its “High Magnification Endomicroscope” project.
In 1998, Optiscan was awarded a $1.9 million grant from the Commonwealth Government’s R&D Start Grant program.
In 1999, the company produced a world first hand held confocal microscope in prototype form. During 2000, the design was integrated into a hand held scanner for dermatology, called the Stratum, which was released to the market following regulatory clearance from the FDA in May 2001.
In late 2001, Optiscan further miniaturised its scanner technology, and developed a prototype scanner so small it was capable of use in an endoscope inside the body.
This world first achievement led to negotiations with leading endoscope manufacturers, and resulted in an agreement in February 2002 with Pentax.
After several years of joint development with Pentax, the prototype was transformed into the world’s first confocal endomicroscope, which was released to the world market on 1 March 2006.
Optiscan is now working on a second generation technology which includes the further miniaturisation of the scanner.