Sony said Monday it will launch a new medical device that uses its Blu-ray optics technology to analyze and sort different types of cells.
The company said its "Cell Sorter SH800" is a low-cost flow cytometer, a device that shines laser beams on cells as they pass through a tiny channel, then analyzes the refracted light to rapidly determine their size and type. Sony said this is similar to the process of reading light refracted from a laser shined on a Blu-ray disc spinning at high speeds.
Faced with years of large financial losses, Sony has had to scale back on some of its businesses, such as panel production for its TVs. But the company has said it wants to leverage core technologies developed for consumer electronics, especially in areas like optical components, and expand into medical technology and other fields.
The Tokyo company has acquired several medical device makers in recent years. In September it said it had bought Micronics, based in Redmond, Washington, which makes portable devices that can test body fluids such as blood and saliva. And in 2010, the company acquired iCyt Mission Technology, a maker of cell-sorting devices.
Sony said Monday that the Cell Sorter was the first to come from combining its Blu-ray technology with iCyt assets. It said the new device is a third of the size and easier to use than comparable devices from other manufacturers, and it would be marketed to customers such as private research labs as a low budget alternative.
The company said it will begin to take orders from the fall for the new device, which will cost around ¥20 million (US$250,000).
Sony's expansion into medical devices adds to its wide portfolio of businesses, which sets it apart from other electronics makers. Known mainly for its consumer gadgets and video games, the company also has large movie and music divisions as well as a financial services arm.