Canon Inc. announced today that the company has developed the new “Built-in AEC 1 assistance” technology for digital radiography (DR) 2 . With this technology, the device’s X-ray image sensor uses identical elements that are simultaneously capable of performing either image generation or real-time detection of the pixel value 3 corresponding to emitted X-rays, notifying the X-ray generator when pixel value reaches a preset value.


Conceptual illustration of pixels comprising an X-ray image sensor

In clinical environments, X-ray imaging is conducted with various precautions in accordance with the ALARA 4 principle of radiation safety, which states that the use of radiation must, among other factors, “take into account benefits to the public health and safety, and other societal and socioeconomic considerations.” For example, when performing imaging using an X-ray imaging system, operators use an externally attached device for detecting electrical current corresponding to emitted X-rays in order to ensure that subjects are not exposed to excess radiation from the X-ray generator. However, with the digital radiography method, there are use cases in which external detection devices cannot be used, such as when the wireless X-ray imaging device is detached from the radiography stand or table.

In order to improve such conventional workflows, Canon has leveraged the X-ray sensor technologies and imaging technologies the company has cultivated over its long history to develop its new “Built-in AEC Assistance” technology. The new technology provides imaging devices with built-in functionality that conventionally requires external devices. This makes possible high-speed electric signal readout, as well as pixel value correction through various algorithms, within the X-ray image sensor, allowing the image sensor to simultaneously generate images and detect in real time the pixel value corresponding to emitted X-rays. What’s more, the technology enables operators to specify a pixel value and automatically send a notification to the X-ray generator. When that value is reached, eliminating the need for a dedicated external attachment and enabling the automatic stopping of X-ray emissions from the X-ray generator.

Going forward, Canon will include this new technology in its CXDI series of digital radiography devices and continue developing products that are well-suited to a wide range of clinical scenarios including regular hospital rounds by medical professionals. In addition, the company is developing new products while exploring potential uses outside of the medical industry and advancing its X-ray sensor and imaging technology in order to further expand the boundaries of digital imaging.

  • 1 AEC stands for “Automatic Exposure Control”
  • 2 DR systems employ a scintillator that converts X-rays into visible light, and a large-scale flat-panel sensor to use the light to generate a digital image.
  • 3 A digital value read by the image sensor after photoelectric conversion of X-rays into visible light by way of a scintillator.
  • 4 As Low As Reasonably Achievable. A recommended principle published by the International Commission on Radiological Protection in 1977.