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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Entrepreneur's Corner:
Mimic Technologies


What is the connection between a flight simulator and a robotic surgical system? Seattle-based Mimic Technologies’ new dV-Trainer, created for the robotic da Vinci Surgical System is designed to teach basic ­robotic skills, such as instrument manipulation, camera control, clutching and suturing.

Inspired by the flight simulator, the trainer allows surgeons to independently practice important skills that once required cadavers, or live patients.

Jeff Berkley, ’93, Mimic’s president and founder, was working for a surgery simulation company in 1996, when he witnessed firsthand how doctors were reluctant to accept virtual surgery, as a valid tool for medical training. The reason—the lack of realism that technology provided at that time. Berkley founded Mimic Technologies, Inc. in March 2001, and started making haptic devices, which add the sense of touch in virtual reality simulations, so you can feel what you are “touching.”

“The simulator even gives you feedback, and grades you so you know where your weaknesses are,” says Berkley. “It’s more objective than the feedback you would get from ­another doctor, and monitors things that a doctor might not notice.”

The dV trainer will be released at the end of 2009. Meanwhile, Mimic has been working on a number of Department of Defense contracts including a robot that will allow medics to operate remotely on wounded soldiers, in order to stop bleeding while they are being evacuated to hospital. Currently located in Seattle, the company now has nine full-time employees and sales of about $1 million per year. They expect their sales to grow after the release of the dV trainer at the end of this year.



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