2006 IGT Workshop Presentation Summary Kikinis

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This is a preliminary summary of Ron's presentation.

Open-Source As Part of the IGT Solution

At the first annual IGT Workshop, Ron Kikinis, MD, the National Alliance for Medical Image Computing's (NA-MIC) principal investigator, presented on the potential of free open-source software (FOSS) to change the way that research is done in image-guided therapy (IGT). Today there is a partition between FDA approved commercial software used in clinical routine and research software that is not FDA approved and is used in clinical research. As part of the FOSS effort, tools and methodologies have been developed that allow for quality assurance and performance characterization. For instance, FOSS allows scientists to share research infrastructure such as file readers, visualization modules and interfaces to devices such as trackers, image acquisition scanners and robots.

This software will have to co-exist and be interoperable with FDA approved commercial software and devices. Such integration requires the development of well-characterized open interfaces to these proprietary devices and software environments. The idea of FOSS as a bridge is similar to the use of a USB key that can be applied to a variety of operating systems. Opentracker is yet another example of an open system from IGT in that it has an open interface that works with several proprietary tracking systems.

IGT's successful growth and improvement, that includes quality assurance, is dependent on the kind of knowledge flow and sharing only possible through open systems.

Other important benefits of this extension to FOSS include:

  • enabling IGT researchers to work at the same time with equipment from different vendors
  • increased efficieny of science dollars by preventing unecessary duplication.

We are advocating to use a BSD style open source license for the platforms used for IGT FOSS work. This open source license does not have a "give back" requirement. This allows commercial entities to build on this plattform and to create value-add versions of the software for commercial use.