Health Care, Manufacturing, and Technology

Mayo Clinic taps local firm for lighting

January 10, 2020
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Gentex headquarters Zeeland
Zeeland-based Gentex, founded in 1974, is a diversified maker of products for the automotive, aviation and fire industries. Courtesy Gentex

A global manufacturing and electronics company based in West Michigan has collaborated with a health care organization to develop a lighting technology for surgical and other medical applications.

Zeeland-based Gentex Corporation worked with Mayo Clinic to develop a new “smart lighting system” that combines ambient room lighting with camera-controlled, adaptive task lighting to optimize illumination.

The ceiling-mounted lighting units contain adjustable LED lights that place focused illumination when and where it’s needed, using voice commands, hand gestures or a hand-held tracking device. The integrated camera then orchestrates lighting intensity and direction to create optimal lighting conditions within the defined surgical field.

Gentex engineers and Mayo Clinic surgeons, scientists and operating room staff have been working together for the past 18 months on the product. The teams researched, designed and rapidly iterated multiple prototypes to develop features that address major gaps in current surgical lighting solutions, the partners said.

The project allowed Gentex, which primarily supplies electro-optical products to the automotive, aerospace and fire protection industries, a chance to apply its resources to the medical industry.

“Gentex has a long history of combining camera systems with control algorithms to manipulate light, but medical applications afford a host of new opportunities and challenges,” said Gentex CEO Steve Downing. “Thanks to our cross-disciplinary collaboration, we’ve engineered an advanced prototype system that has the potential to transform how patient care is delivered.”

Gentex and Mayo Clinic anticipate a series of collaborative opportunities seeking to improve health care through the development of innovative technologies.

“We’ve faced challenges in optimizing surgical field lighting for more than 50 years. We believe this represents an opportunity to bring fresh perspective on how to deliver the best care to our patients every day,” said Dr. Judy Boughey, surgeon and vice chair for research in surgery, Mayo Clinic.

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