Lantos Raises $3.8M to Push 3D Ear Scanner Closer to Market

7/26/12Follow @arleneweintraub

When Cambridge, MA-based Lantos Technologies filed SEC documents earlier this month indicating that it raised $3.8 of a planned $6.6 million funding round, the company was pretty much mum on the matter—no press releases or announcements of any kind. But when Xconomy reached Doug Hart, the MIT mechanical engineering professor who founded the company in 2009, he made it clear the financing marks an important milestone for the company. “It should take us well into product launch and hopefully to cash positive,” he says.

That product is the Lantos 3D Intra-Aural Digital Scanner, a handheld imaging device designed to give audiologists an easy and accurate way to fit patients for hearing aids. Lantos released a demo version of its device in March, and it has spent the last several months working out “some annoying manufacturing bugs,” Hart says. The company is completing its clinical trial program and working with the FDA on putting together a package for approval, he adds.

Lantos raised $5.7 million in two previous rounds, according to SEC filings. It is backed by several Boston-area investors, including Catalyst Health Ventures, Excel Venture Management, and Mass Medical Angels. Hart says existing investors participated in the most recent round along with one new investor whom he did not name.

Lantos’ technology is designed to shake up the antiquated audiology-fitting process, which until now has required physicians to make molds of patients’ ears out of silicon. “You can cause a great deal of pain by shoving silicon down someone’s ear,” Hart says. What’s more, the process is imprecise, because it only captures the ear in one position, when in fact, the ear canal’s shape changes whenever a patient moves. That’s why a lot of hearing aids don’t fit as well as they could, Hart says.

The company’s 3D scanner takes multiple images inside patients’ ear canals while they’re moving their heads. Its technology backbone was originally developed to detect the thickness of oil inside engines. Lantos adapted the technology to the ear by developing a flexible insert that expands in the ear canal. The insert contains dye and a fiber-optic camera that capture images based on light absorption.

Lantos debuted its 3D scanner at the American Academy of Audiology’s (AAA) annual meeting in March in Boston, and Hart says it was “extremely well received.”

That said, Lantos will likely face competition. Atlanta-based 3DM Systems also displayed its 3D camera at the AAA meeting, creating some buzz in the audiology world about … Next Page »

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