Plane Wave– Vol. 2, Issue 2 – The Growth and Vision of Verasonics

Welcome to the second issue of Volume 2 of PLANE WAVE, Verasonics’ Newsletter through which we share information about new products and technologies, emerging applications, conferences, training opportunities, and collaborations with researchers in ultrasound and ultrasonic technologies.  We hope you find these newsletters informative and interesting, and welcome your suggestions for future topics.

New Products and Applications ▪ Technology Information ▪ Research ▪ Conferences and Training

The Growth and Vision of Verasonics

An Interview with President and CEO, Lauren Pflugrath

The Verasonics Vantage system offers scientists and engineers the leading research platform for innovation. This flexible and programmable ultrasonic technology provides an expansive array of features and capabilities critically useful in research and development for biomedical ultrasound, materials science/non-destructive evaluation, and more.

Recently, Lauren Pflugrath, President and CEO of Verasonics, shared his thoughts about Verasonics’ genesis and development, the company philosophy, and its focus on exceeding customer needs and expectations. We’re excited to share these thoughts with you to provide greater insight into Verasonics’ history, beliefs and vision as we maintain our promise to build the most cutting-edge research ultrasound solutions, assisting and enabling your ongoing and future research and development projects.

How did Verasonics begin?

Pflugrath:

For many years, Ron Daigle, Verasonics’ CTO, and I worked at ATL/Philips Healthcare together. Later we became consultants specializing in the ultrasound industry for a variety of manufacturers. We quickly learned there was an important customer audience being neglected by the major manufacturers. We saw that researchers and commercial developers desperately needed more powerful and flexible ultrasonic innovation tools to further scientific exploration and development of ultrasound technologies. At the time, there was no ultrasound system available that had the capability of providing high quality RF data acquisition in real time and offered a simple approach for users to program new algorithms.

In 2007, Verasonics launched the V-1 as a dedicated research ultrasound system based on its unique pixel-oriented processing method of software beamforming, which enabled real-time access to RF data. This was the first commercially available research ultrasound system to provide the ability to program everything at the per-channel level on both transmit and receive. By enabling high-speed plane wave and extreme high frame rate imaging, research areas that were once deemed impossible, suddenly became practical to explore.

In 2013 Verasonics expanded its product portfolio with the introduction of the Vantage platform which provides increased performance and upgradability. The Verasonics product portfolio now includes over one hundred products and services designed to support research and development in a broad range of applications in fields such as biomedical engineering, materials science and non-destructive evaluation, geo-sciences, underwater acoustics, biometrics, and more.

About Lauren Pflugrath

Prior to Verasonics, Lauren spent 18 years as a leader in ultrasound technology management and development as a senior director of high performance and mid-range ultrasound groups at ATL/Philips Ultrasound. This included a position as Director of Handheld Devices at ATL, during which he led development of a prototype device that became Sonosite – now the market leading hand-held ultrasound device sold under FUJI FILM. Additionally, Lauren is named as an inventor on 19 ultrasound patents.

Describe the team and vision at Verasonics and how it has evolved over the years?

Pflugrath:

When we began in 2001, Verasonics was comprised of a small number of engineers with extensive ultrasonic design and development experience. We all shared a passion for meaningful innovation in ultrasound with the intention of enabling unbounded research exploration while maintaining our own intellectual property. Our ultimate common goal was to enable users of our products to take the field of ultrasound to new places. This original team had the expertise to develop a very high speed, high fidelity acquisition system in a cost- and time-efficient manner. In those early days, we operated our business out of a house in the woods near Redmond, Washington. Additionally, the Company was ‘bootstrapped,’ meaning no outside funding was acquired and the Company was owned by the employees.

Since then, we have expanded our staff to over 30 employees and contractors with expertise in areas including engineering, marketing, sales, customer support, operations and management. Today, there are over 400 V-1 and Vantage research ultrasound systems in the field. Verasonics’ US corporate headquarters has moved to Kirkland, Washington, and has transitioned twice to accommodate the growth of the business. Additionally, Verasonics now has headquarters not only in the USA, but has an office in the European Union as well. Our distribution partners provide Verasonics research ultrasound solutions to research customers in China, Japan, Korea, India, and Taiwan. From initially offering a single V-1 system configuration, the Company has evolved to now offering 16 Vantage configurations, plus software options, transducers, accessories, upgrades and services. Despite this rapid growth, the Verasonics’ team has not lost sight of our goals and vision, which is to provide technologies designed to assist our customers by expanding the opportunities for ultrasound research and development.

As the Company has grown, what has been important to its evolution and what is critical to its continued success?

Pflugrath:

Innovation, maintaining intellectual property and providing premium consultative support have been key elements of focus for continued success over the years and as we evolve. Firstly, continually bringing new innovative technology and capabilities to the research ultrasound market to expand the way ultrasound is studied and being applied to new commercial platforms is imperative to our success. Secondly, we understand the value of intellectual property, whether developed by us or by our customers. We have expanded resources to protect inventions and IP so that our customers can be confident with their innovations. Finally, by providing consultative customer support, we provide a service that is more than just fixing a broken system. We give customers access to an expert, experienced staff comprised of engineers and scientists who are available to consult on programming scripts to best optimize system performance.

A big part of the challenge for us is knowing what technologies will be needed by researchers next year, and the year after that. To continue providing the hardware and software platform upon which tomorrow’s research can be performed we have to anticipate where the science is headed. For this reason it is very important to get accurate, timely and constructive feedback from customers. We have established a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of recognized leaders in this field to give us guidance. And we continue to seek input from users we meet at conferences and symposia.

What’s new coming from Verasonics?

Pflugrath:

Customer input and feedback informs many of our development efforts on the Vantage platform. In the near future, we will offer six new Universal Transducer Adapters (UTAs) to expand support for different kinds of transducers in both biomedical and non-destructive evaluation applications. The growing interest in volume imaging has led us to increase the Vantage system capabilities for very high channel count configurations, including a new technique for high-speed data transfer from a secondary computer to the primary computer capable of both CPU and GPU processing. Vantage, when configured for the application of NDE research, will soon be compatible with Bristol BRAIN software. I am excited to announce that a new more affordable version of the Vantage research ultrasound platform, called the Vantage 32LE, will soon be available to enable more researchers to utilize the advanced capabilities of the Vantage platform. With 64 transmit and 32 receive channels, and compatibility with Verasonics transducers up to 128 elements, the Vantage 32LE uses the same software as other Vantage models and can be upgraded as your needs change.

What is the Company’s philosophy on delivering customer support and ensuring customer satisfaction?

Pflugrath:

Although the Verasonics suite of products is comprised of robust and highly reliable hardware and software, we do know at times service is needed and questions can arise. Whether customers are seeking advice concerning script development, specific system capabilities, or are experiencing a hardware issue, customers have access to our expert Customer Support team which includes experienced scientists and engineers. We also offer system training at our US headquarters in Kirkland several times per year and continue to expand and improve our product documentation.

We are also developing a Customer Community website that will be launched soon. This Verasonics Community will allow our customers to share sample scripts as well as obtain product information and training support 24/7.

Read What Verasonics Users are Saying:

“Since 2014, we have used Verasonics ultrasound systems with our NDE research studies. We have found Verasonics to be very flexible for developing new techniques and methods for materials testing.”

Pierre Belanger, PhD, Professor at École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS), Montreal, Canada

“The Vantage ultrasound system has played a critical role in our functional ultrasound research studies and in our ongoing research as a highly programmable, cutting edge ultrasound technology. It allows us to perform high quality contrast-enhanced imaging and acquire large quantities of data very fast, proving ‘ultrasound localization microscopy’ is a viable technique in the way tumors can be staged at a microvascular level.”

Paul Dayton, PhD, Professor Joint Biomedical Engineering Department of University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University, USA

“Verasonics technology has been a game changer for the research ultrasound community.  For over 8 years now, our team has used ultrasound systems from Verasonics in a broad spectrum of  projects for laboratory and human subject research. We continually find the systems to be high quality in function, extremely flexible to program new algorithms and user friendly, ultimately contributing to shorter times needed to bring research projects to completion. Additionally, we can evaluate  development ideas in just days rather than months — critical when innovating our own imaging technologies. Since we began using Verasonics ultrasound in 2010, we have used the technology in at least 75 percent of the research studies published from our team.”

James F. Greenleaf, PhD, Pengfei Song, PhD & Matthew W. Urban, PhD Ultrasound Research Laboratory, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN

 Visit Us at Upcoming Conferences & Vantage SystemTraining, including:

The 18th International Symposium for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU):
14-17 May 2018 – Nashville, TN

Vantage System Training
17-18 May 2018 – Nashville, TN

12th European Conference on Non-Destructive Testing:
11-15 June 2018 – Gothenburg, Sweden

Review of New Research in Quantitative Nondestrucitve Evaluation (QNDE):
15-19 July 2018 – Burlington, Vermont, USA

International Tissue Elasticity Conference (ITEC 2018):
9-12 Sept. 2018 – Avignon, France

11th International Conference on Ultrasonic Biomedical Microscanning:
23-26 Sept. 2018 –Lakeville, Connecticut, USA

Learn more about Verasonics and Vantage Research Ultrasound.
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2018-05-25T18:43:23+00:00 May 9th, 2018|New Products, Verasonics Technology|