New Additions: January 2011, Part 1

I have a significant backlog of great programs waiting to be added to the site. Partly this is due to me not putting enough work into the site over the summer – too many outdoor distractions. Partly due to having met some great people at the RSNA conference in November, and learning about some new programs and software repositories from them. And it’s nice to note that it’s partly due to people contacting me first when they release a new project – it’s good to be recognized!

So I’m adding almost 20 programs in January, bringing the total of active programs listed to close to 300. Some other projects have fallen off due to inactivity or dead links, but overall, the number is growing rapidly. I’ve noticed an increasing number of fully-formed programs being released, some of which are sizable projects from commercial developers, in addition to some limited-scope programs coming from academic labs. The standard really is being raised.

One reason for more free applications from commercial developers, might be a growing realization in the industry that a free application is a great way to get exposure and recognition in a very crowded marketplace. There are dozens of PACS vendors, big and small, and it can take an effort to learn enough about their product to really make an impression. By releasing a free application, often an image viewer, these companies are getting their name recognized and gaining momentum in the marketplace. Frequently as an addition to the free application, they sell more advanced software – PACS servers, complex analytical modules, or regulatory-approved versions of their product. Fair enough, they have to make money somehow. I think more and more companies will follow this trend.

OK, on with the promised newly-listed software, in no particular order.

AmbiVU Lite, from AmbiVU in Oxford, England, is a good example of a highly capable imaging workstation being released as a free application from a commercial developer. AmbiVU Lite is the free version, and is a good program for general imaging needs. For more specialized tasks, modules can be purchased for mammography, PET-CT, colonoscopy, and increased PACS capabilities. AmbiVU Lite uses OpenGL image rendering, so has particularly fast 3D graphics capabilities that can make good use of graphics cards. It’s cross-platform (though the Linux version is still in development), so can provide a consistent image workstation in a group that works on a variety of computers.

Another very significant new addition is Ginkgo CADX, developed by Spanish company MetaEmotion with support from the public health service in the region of Castilla y Leon. This is another excellent imaging workstation, released for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. It has a particular emphasis on standards compliance, having support for the health-records interoperability standards HL7 and IHE. DICOM compliance and capabilities are another particular strength of this program. It’s based on an extensible framework (CADX), and the full source code in C++ is made available for download under the LGPL license, so this project may very well lead to further derivatives including commercial applications. Another notable feature is that it does not require an installation process – just copy the files in place, and it’s done. The project makes excellent use of many other open-source toolkits including VTK, ITK, and DCMTK, all of which are familiar on this site. This project, running since 2009, may well be the start of a whole class of powerful imaging programs.

Carimas is for heavy-duty brain PET analysis from the renowned Turku University in Finland. This is a highly specialized field (it just happens to be my field) and so this is a specialized program. For example, this program can use the ECAT and Interfile formats that, while are commonly used in nuclear medicine (Dicom is also supported). It implements the neuro modeling routines developed at Turku, and makes them, as much as possible, easy to use. There’s not much commercial software available in this sub-speciality so many labs rely on programs developed by themselves or other academic centres. Turku turns out a remarkable amount of utility software for functional neuroimaging – too many to list individually. Carimas, as a stand-alone application, gets its own listing. It also distinguishes itself by having its own theatrical movie trailer.