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Halo Dental Technologies

Revolutionizing dentistry with NLP, computer vision and security
Close-up image of the Halo Dental digital mirror device.

The context

Montreal-based Halo Dental Technologies was founded by passionate dentist Claude Chamoun and Co-Founders Fadi Khoury, Peter Khoury and David Khoury. After becoming increasingly frustrated with time-consuming patient file transcription and dealing with industry software teetering on obsolescence, they are setting out to revolutionize the dental experience. Their upcoming connected dental mirror is designed to drastically reduce manual input, enabling practitioners to dedicate more time to patients and deliver superior care.

After several years of R&D work on the hardware, they approached us for design and development of their medical records platform. We took the complete tech solution from Discovery to development—touching on natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, firmware, security, and much more. Here’s how we did it.

Project details

Industry
Health
Technologies
AI
Amazon DynamoDB
AWS Lambda
AIoT
Services
AI
Development
Design

The challenge

Halo boasts a compact design with small, efficient components for optimal space use and performance. It includes a camera and light that go inside a patient’s mouth to broadcast a live feed to an accompanying tablet. Due to the hardware’s small size, our team was challenged to program very precisely, in such a way that the feed would be captured without latency or lag. 

Our client wanted the AI-powered platform to incorporate computer vision, enabling the manipulation of numerous images and videos for AI modelling to automatically:

  • detect when the mirror is inside the patient's mouth and control LEDs accordingly
  • rotate images
  • enhance image quality

They also wanted to harness natural language processing (NLP) to convert speech-to-text, such as for automatically capturing tooth chart readings in patient files as they’re said aloud. This would alleviate dental assistants from tedious manual documentation, freeing them up to deliver an exceptional patient experience.

Because the software would deal with sensitive patient data in Canada and the US, it was also imperative that we fully comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines, with specific policies in place for data storage according to regulatory requirements. This includes the mandate that all information pertaining to Canadian patients, for example, must be stored within Canada. To safeguard privacy and security, comprehensive encryption is implemented across all data, ensuring that even we, as developers, don’t have access to the information.

Halo Dental digital mirror.

Patient taken care of with the Halo Dental digital mirror

The task at hand

We wanted to design something that was simple, yet complete. Building for a tablet allowed us to trim down to the essentials and provide a very enjoyable user experience. Our six-week Discovery phase brought us through several proof-of-concept (POC) iterations to get things just right, before we began the A-Z development of the solution (mobile, data encryption with hosting, 3D models, hardware implementation, and more). 

Halo’s hardware leverages gRPC for efficient communication through APIs, enhancing its connectivity and functionality by enabling it to interact seamlessly with external services or applications. One technical hurdle we encountered was the need to manage the hardware directly from a web application. This was particularly challenging because the hardware utilizes Wifi Direct technology, which cannot be controlled through standard web browsers due to its requirement for access to the low-level code of the tablet. To overcome this, we designed a custom micro-backend service that functions as a small web server, allowing us to send commands to it. It serves as an intermediary, enabling streaming, controlling LEDs, and managing other hardware functions through web app calls.

We utilized Amazon DynamoDB for its serverless, fully-managed NoSQL database capabilities, offering exceptional scalability and single-digit millisecond response times, ideal for modern applications. This cost-effective solution supports a pay-for-what-you-use model, eliminating unnecessary background operations and optimizing costs. We leveraged DynamoDB’s efficient data handling for machine learning, enhancing processing speed and ensuring data security with built-in encryption measures, crucial for achieving HIPAA certification. Dynamo DB’s performance and security features significantly contributed to the project’s success, demonstrating its value in developing responsive, compliant, and efficient applications.

The project leverages a serverless architecture powered by AWS Lambda, enabling us to efficiently scale our resources in response to user demand. This approach allows the application to scale down to zero when not in use, meaning there are no incurred costs during periods of inactivity, and only paying for resources actually consumed.

Close-up image of the Halo Dental digital mirror device.

The end result

After a year of dedicated effort, V1 of the medical records platform is now complete.

Dental practices who employ Halo will receive the complete tech solution, which includes the wifi-enabled hardware (with swappable mirror heads for easy sterilizing), a tablet with the preloaded software, plus a mounting arm. Halo’s photo, audio, and video recording capabilities mean that dentists can visually demonstrate what’s happening during exams, educate patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health, and compare current results against previous results.

What’s next

As we look ahead to the next phase of development in Spring 2024, Halo will embody a new brand identity, integrate more advanced features and allow for interaction with third-party applications such as existing dental software. We're also adapting the product for regional differences between the US and Canada, including bilingual support in Canada, to ensure Halo meets local requirements.

It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with a team as passionate as Halo. From the outset, the project was fueled by the visionary guidance of the founding team. Their profound understanding of the dental profession has been instrumental in shaping a product that is truly made by and for dentists.

Dr.Claude Chamoun, co-founder of Halo Dental Technologies.

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