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What to consider when choosing HOOPS SDKs for your Medical application

By Gabe Peragine • 
March 27th, 2023

Tech Soft 3D works with various industries and our partners are diverse. However, there are select industries that we typically don't partner with, such as the medical industry. 

Today we will talk about why HOOPS may not align with the needs of those in the medical industry, specific instances where we would be a good fit, and the solutions that would be a better fit in cases where we aren’t the right choice. 

Issues with Volumetric Rendering and Data Visualization

A big issue that we face here is data visualization. 

In the medical field, things like MRIs and CT scans look at volumes of data. To visualize data for medical purposes, you need volumetric rendering, which allows you to see things at varying depths. 

Medical data is shown in greyscale and comprises voxels, a 3D pixel. It shows density based on the intensity of the voxel.

Tech Soft 3D’s graphics engines, HOOPS Visualize, and HOOPS Communicator, don't support voxels and volumetric rendering. HOOPS is optimized for rendering triangles, which is excellent for engineering or construction data but doesn't make sense when looking at a human body. 

However, If you’re looking to create a 3D surface around the bone in an image taken with an x-ray, that is something we can help with. 

There’s an algorithm that works well for this called marching cubes that create triangles around those surfaces specifically for medical purposes. 

One of our partners, Vorum Research Corporation, uses this technique to create custom-fit orthotics for those who have lost limbs. 

Volumetric rendering for medical use is far off into the future for us if it's happening at all. We're just dabbling in it right now with the rendering of liquids and gasses. 

If you need volumetric rendering, we recommend using SKDs from Open Inventor and VTK, who specialize in this technique. HOOPS Communicator and HOOPS Visualize are optimized for visualizing engineering data: polygonal surfaces, lines, text, and point clouds. Our development roadmaps do not currently include support for volumetric data.

Lack of Support for DICOM

Another big reason we don't work within the medical industry is due to file formats. 

The most common type of file format used for medical imaging is DICOM. 

This file format is output from CT scanners, MRIs, and X-Ray Machines. Though HOOPS Exchange supports over 30 different 3D file formats, DICOM is not currently one of them. We don’t have any plans to support the DICOM file format in HOOPS, so anyone looking to develop software utilizing the DICOM format would need to use an existing reader like LeadTools or Imbra

Exceptions with Polygonica

As stated previously, there are some instances where our product may work for companies in the medical industry. One of these instances is in the orthodontics and dentistry space. 

Items like custom nightguards, implants, or dental casts are often 3D printed. These models are commonly polygonal and are easily read and visualized with the HOOPS SDKs.

Additionally, the 3D models must be watertight before going to the printer. This is where Polygonica can be useful. It can heal the mesh and ensure that it is ready for printing. One of our partners, Renishaw is an excellent example of a dental application using Polygonica. 

Finding the right SDK for your medical application 

Unless you’re looking to use our products to print 3D medical materials, Tech Soft 3D's products aren’t suitable for those looking to develop software in the medical industry

If you are developing software in the medical industry, we’d recommend exploring SDKs that provide DICOM support and volumetric rendering. 

If you have any questions or concerns about whether Tech Soft 3D products suit your use case, do not hesitate to contact our experts. They are always ready to guide you toward the right solution.

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