It is my absolute pleasure to introduce CEO Chandra divan. She is the co founder of a company Eris MD, which is a high tech imaging company. And her product she refers to which I think is brilliant as a Google Maps for surgeons, and it creates like precise 3d views of body organs. And this allows surgeons to practice performing the surgery in virtual space, essentially giving doctors like X ray vision. And it's a tremendous benefit because there's no pressure for cadavers. And you know, and you can train at a much lower cost and train a lot more surgeons using this. So, Ireson V. Chandra's company has won a couple major awards, including one from NASA, and a competition that NASA held to find the best emerging private technology across all of North America. So it's like absolute pleasure to have Chandra here today. Chandra, thank you for joining us.
Thank you so much.
So I think I'd like to start just by if you want to go over the technology itself. I mean, I kind of gave a brief summary, but it's hard to take. Yeah,
if you haven't seen it, it's hard. That was pretty good. So Eris is that imaging software, to put it in a small context. So it has a lot of different applications. And what you were speaking of is the one we speak about the most, or at least our first one that we launched with was for surgical navigation. But that actually, you can transpose those images. So it's like a CT scan, or an or an x ray, or a MRI, anything, any medical imaging and diagnostic imaging that you would already have going into surgery to diagnose, we can then take that make a map, so to say the Google Maps and put it all into 3d. So it's just like, if you were actually looking at the heart, versus a 2d image, which is like slicing, we compile it all together, then they can pre plan the surgery, get a really good plan on how to do it. But then during surgery, we can actually transpose that on the body. So they see exactly where the heart and lungs were located. Because we all have different anatomical makeups. So it gives them more precision during surgery, as well as exploring and teaching as you as you put pointed out already,
yep, no, perfect. So one thing I'm fascinated by is, you know, over the last 25 years, I've worked with 1000s, of inventors. And a lot of times they don't, their intention is not to go out there and create a new product. And you know, and it's, they take a really circular route to coming up with the idea. So tell us a little bit about your background, where you started and how you got down this road to Google Maps for surgeons.
Well, Eris wasn't my first venture. So I'd been involved with some other technologies that did really well in the industry. My first invention was when I was eight, I was a school for gifted kids program for gifted kids, where they challenged us to come up with an invention, I think, was called inventor invention convention or something. And I did really well with that. So I was always a problem solver and looking at things with Eris, I'd had a medical treatment, we'd exited from a previous startup. And I was looking for something else. And so it was kind of two roads that combined really well. So I was looking for something. And at the same time I was in Silicon Valley when Oculus was starting to I think they've just been purchased by which is, which is VR, like the VR headset, most people know what it is now. And Google Glass had just been kind of released and talked about, about so that was
about What year was this give us? Like?
I'd say it was 2014 that maybe 2013. So in and around there. And we I said that was pretty interesting to me, because I remember when Virtual Reality first came out, and I thought that was going to be a huge thing. But the hardware and the computers weren't there for it to display and really take off. And that was like early 90s, late 80s. So that was exciting for me. At the same time, I was looking for a project that would advance people not just like make people type faster or better games, I was looking for something that was a bit of a higher calling for me and we'd help people. At the same time I had a surgical procedure that was supposed to be just day surgery, very simple surgery that went wrong. And my first instinct was, Well, what did the doctor do wrong? And then I went, Wait a minute, okay, well, what happened here? And they said, Well, no, everybody's made up differently. And I had an artery that was an area that they weren't expecting, and they hit it and I started to bleed out and almost died and went home. How can we put all this together so it kind of naturally emerged? Well, why don't I put So why don't I give them x ray vision so that they know where that artery is. And they can plan this going in, and this doesn't happen. So that's the roundabout story of it.
Well, so that brings up a major clarification. So this is not a 3d imaging of a generic heart or the classic heart. Yeah, this is really patient specific. Yeah. So you would be the doc to be able to practice so to speak. Yeah. Agree. On on you before we actually does it. Well, yeah. Yeah. It gives me like goosebumps just thinking about the possibility. So I was off a little bit when I said it's replacing cadet, you know, a cadaver, you can only Well, no, that one
was really good, too. Because we can do virtual autopsies and cadavers. No, that's absolutely true, too. Because then doctors are able to use different patients, not just one cadaver, they can practice the surgery on different data sets, basically. So now that that was actually training, and school was a much was was one of my first applications that I wrote about so.
So almost like an I'm thinking of like flight simulators, where you load, you know, you load like Rocky Mountains, or whatever. And then you can practice flying an airplane there, or you will, the French Alps or something. So you could, doctors could actually choose, you know, if they want patients with certain conditions, once you have that in their database, it would be able to practice on a patient with that specific condition.
Well, and also, like medical advances happen all the time. So you've got a new surgery, it's better performed this way. But a doctor would need time to say, take, take time away from their practice, go and learn that whereas this is a way they could just download, hey, here's the here's a new way to do heart surgery. Here's, you know, they used to for heart surgery, for example, was open heart and they'd crack open the sternum. Now they can do it with just a little tiny incision. So being able to bring new older doctors up to speed to the newer practices is also really important. So there's a lot of applications in medicine, but outside of medicine, as well. So we saw a lot when writing the patents.
Oh, tell me about tell me about the patents? We haven't none of our questions are really touched on those. So this is kind of new territory for us. So
sure. Um, so because this wasn't our first rodeo, this wasn't our first time doing this, um, we, my my business partner, Scott, his previous startup sold to Apple, so all of his patents went to Apple, and now they're Apple granted patents. So we knew that value in IP was was incredible. With startups, that startup was pre revenue when it sold and it's now like the Apple keyboard on your iPhone, parts of it, or at least. So we knew that IP was really important. So the first thing we did was file our provisional and we did a very vague, well, a large reaching provisional, so it covered not just this, but I patented the health space and AR VR. So psychological stuff, like if you wanted to go and talk to a psychologist, but not, you know, be in their office or dealing with phobias, you know, chiropractic, all kinds of stuff. So we did a large, provisional, and then narrowed in claims with the patent that was really important to us. And we spent a lot of money.
So a lot of times with patenting with what inventors tries to get a portfolio of patents. So lesions, was that part of the strategy as well? Yeah. Well, um, sometimes you get broad enough coverage with the first application that that's not,
it's pretty, we wrote it with language that was very broad, and can be narrowed down and gave a lot of different examples. I think our patent is for a morphological object or something. It wasn't, it wasn't specific to a live person or an animal, I thought about veterinarian, but I also thought about other applications. So um, was the thought, I have to say the thought wasn't necessarily to get a large patent portfolio, it wasn't not to. Part of it was that these athletes, these AR and VR, glasses, were just coming to market and I wasn't sure what was going to be possible. In fact, we started writing our software a year before we could actually test it on hard hardware applications. So we wanted to have a lot of pivot room, if it was like, Okay, we can't actually I've never touched MRI data. And it's not, we're not able to put it into 3d. So we're gonna have to go with something else. So I gave us a lot of wiggle room with it. But it's turned out to be a large patent portfolio. Yeah.
So I mean, that's, that's typical. I mean, sometimes you don't know how broad the technology can be. is, you know, initially the thoughts of course, were were personal related to your surgery and you thought, gosh, wouldn't this be helpful, but now expanded, and it can tell us about some of the other areas where it possibly whatever you can, whatever it's not, whatever,
I'm pretty I'm pretty well versed in what not to say,
Well, it's so interesting, we were really running with the medical stuff. And it was like revolutionary, because we're able to do it live like real time, if you had your scans done, I could load it into our system. And immediately you'd be able to view it in 3d. So that was really great for doctors and dentists. Were approaching us. And then we were going to South by Southwest, which is a really big tech and arts conference, actually. But films we've got, you know, it's a, it's an interesting, if people want to go, it's a great thing to check out. There's a lot of great innovation there. But other stuff, too. So we had a pitch off at South by Southwest. No, I had a book launch. That's why we were there. I was we were launching a book with the Forbes writer in our space, I wrote the medical chapter, and it was a big deal. And we were excited. And there was a NASA pitch there. And I was like, well, let's just check it out. Maybe there'll be some applications on astronauts, and we pitched and they got very excited about it. And pointed out some applications that so we've also got some AI in our software that we were eventually going to be doing autonomous medicine where we would replace like radiologists and do robotics medicine, like there was a whole other plan there, which was still probably do. So. You're sorry, my screen just blanked out. So they said to us if you can diagnose people this way, couldn't you use this on machinery that was using industrial CT, which is the same as medical CT just larger? We went? Oh, yeah, I guess we could. So we can find little cracks in airplanes and engines, when you know, you've got to do a quick rockets are very expensive. It would be good to know if there's a crack or a little screw out or something that could cause them to have an issue.
The space shuttle Challenger that Oh, yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah. Could be used for for something like that to try to seek an
absolutely, yes. In fact, they already use industrial CT to do that. We just would streamline their process for that. Anytime you would need to look in and analyze if something is having issues, I mean, cars, anything. So anytime you would use so in, in the funny part is I actually grew up in Canada in the oil patch, where there's a lot of industrial pipelines and such and I it should have occurred to me that you could use this for pipelines and inspection of heavy equipment, my husband's in the industry. My father in law, like I, I should have saw that application. And didn't NASA said, you can use this for industrial and we went, Oh, yeah, I guess we could. And luckily, our patents covered that. So we can and, you know, everybody had been trying to build this technology in all of those industries for like 30 years and couldn't. And so it was pretty exciting that we had, so we won that award. And then we actually went on to win, oh, two or three more. So we were and then the largest award that they give the public, we won. And that was really exciting and really validating for us. We were, you know, we're like, I think it's pretty good. But that was really, no, this is good. And we've tried to do this. So you should. This is valuable. Good job. So that was exciting. And definitely a pivot, but same software.
Outside validation is something that is really helpful to a lot of inventors speaker. There's this hesitation. And I don't know if you face that, but the feeling that you're an outsider to somebody else's industry. And how dare you think that you could improve something in an industry that is not your industry like was that your industry was not? And we'll get into that? I mean, at one time you were a real estate investor, which is pretty far from doing medical work or oil refining or any of these other areas where your rockets
or airplanes or did I have impostor syndrome? No, but I'm maybe I'm a pretty confident person. I knew we'd built something really incredible. My business partner is brilliant and was a child prodigy with computers. So I knew our tech was good. I mean, he sold to Apple he's it's his stuff is good. Um, did I have the industry's bumping up against me? Absolutely. saying like, Well, who do you think you are? Who and a girl and I happen to look younger than I am? So I mean, often they thought I was the secretary. And just who do you think you are? Do you have a doctor? And oh, yes, of course, we have doctors that we've gone and talk to you about if this is even possible. But I didn't find that I felt like I didn't belong in the room. But I definitely at first felt the room think well, does she belong here and then, you know, you win everyone over when it's good technology, people are excited about it. But at first there was definitely a barrier of we're not a doctor, how do you know what you're doing? Right, who are you to disrupt our industry? And then it was a great thank you for disrupting the industry.
And it's funny you mentioned the the age, you know, and looking younger, I mean, I you know 50 now so I don't face that be more, but there was a time when gosh, I was when I was initially teaching as a professor at law school, that I felt like I looked younger than most of the students. So I had to make absolutely sure I was the first one to class and I put my suit on before so they would know that that's the professor and I would stand up front. complaining to my wife about that. And I said, Gosh, you know, and she said, Well, they, you know, she said, she wasn't hearing any of it. And she said, Well, you know, okay, so you're looking young people might question whether you're the, you know, experienced, or they might question whether you've got the credentials. But has anyone ever questioned that you're a patent attorney? And I said, No. And she said, Well, you have nothing to complain about. Because my wife said, Dennis. Oh, yeah, are several things. She's
the hygienist. Yeah.
The dental field. Yeah, beans dramatically. I mean, now my daughters are going into dentistry. And it's my wife telling them you guys have it's so much easier? Because she would just, you know, are you the hygienist or you the assistant, and sometimes the entire dental process procedure would be over? And she was like, oh, you know, do I get to see the dentist? The dentist?
Oh, no, yeah, no, I would get people would think my business partner was the CEO, and I was the secretary and be like, can you get us coffee? I'll go get your coffee. The the highlight for that, though, is people will say things. It doesn't happen now. Because I've been I'm pretty public, so people know who I am. But when it first happened, people will say things in front of a secretary they won't say in front of a CEO. So we could use it to our benefit.
The inside scoop right before they let their guard down. Yeah. It's funny.
And then they were embarrassed when they realized who I was. And you can use that as a negotiation tactic a little bit and spin that to your advantage. But yeah, absolutely. I feel for your wife there.
Yeah. So I've learned, you know, kind of you don't realize this, my wife stopped inviting me to when she had dental consultants come to her office to help her with, you know, increasing productivity or business consultants. Initially, she would have me come by and just kind of just be there. And then she'd stopped that because she's you know, every time you show up, you visit my office, like twice a year. But these consultants speak exclusively to you, you're not a dentist, you have no idea what's going on in my practice. But but you know, I'm the one paying for these consultants and I, you know, they ignore,
and they're wasting their time talking. Yeah, and I paid for that.
Joke was Do they know that you had to do it? This is dating myself, because nobody uses Mapquest anymore. Because now GPS on your phone, Google Maps, yeah, you're using that you use Mapquest to get to my office? uninvolved you are. But yeah, so that's I, you've definitely broken a lot of barriers. And I'm sure continue to do so. But what I'd like to go back to in this is earlier days of when you're inventing, because that's now of course, you've got a name for yourself and a reputation which helps. But what advice would you have for an inventor who's working a nine to five job, and they are trying to pursue their first idea.
So I advise to work your nine to five job before you know, investors, when you're doing a startup often want you to be full time on your startup, which is you know, that's a Series A investor, you can get angel investors that understand that you have to get your own skin in the game, I would bleed for my patents. And I said that like I would mortgage everything for the patents, because when you need IP, you need something for your investors to invest in. And you need to protect your your your idea. And one of the first questions that investors and other people but you know, the industry will ask you is, well, what happens if you don't do this first, and someone else does it. And if you have patents, you can say, well, then I have a very friendly conversation with whoever's doing it, we talk about licensing and some some money that they owe me for my idea, like it's a friendly conversation. So that's another way to, to protect yourself and to give value to your company. Because you need value to your company to get investment to take it to the next level, you file your provisional that gives you time to start developing an independence if it's a hardware or software patents, software patents you can do and then working a nine to five so you're a founder like me who's non technical, I'm sort of I'm technical, but not as technical as Scott, my my co founder, but I can fund him to work. You can also go to like something like angels list where you can hire people for equity to work for free while you're still funding your home and whatever things you need to get off the ground. So yeah, I'd advise to patent it right away. Whatever your idea. Don't talk to anybody about it. We were in stealth mode for a year. We didn't tell. I mean, my husband didn't even know what I was working on. I was not talking about an Intel It was at least we had a proof of concept to show because it the type of patent or the type of product I was making sounded very lofty. So I wanted to have something to show people, it's not so important. Once you've got your provisional, then you've got a date and protection. But be pretty broad in that, definitely get a good patent attorney and use broad language. So you're not narrowed, because often you'll have to pivot and wiggle around. So does that answer? No, that
absolutely, yeah. So if you if your patents had narrowed the usage to just medical uses,
that would have been to be out the rocket business? Yeah. Yeah. Just a bigger
Wait, sometimes you don't, you know, you don't realize that. At the time, so you want to protect and the attorney a good patent attorney is looking at is, you know, in a lot of times, I'm hired by companies who know about a patent that exists. And there, they want to find out how they can compete, wiggle around it. Yeah, the war on the patent. So when I'm working for an inventor, my goal is to put on the hat of a competitor, and try to see how I steal this idea if I were the editor without violating the patent. And yeah, to take that a step further, like what you say, how can it be in a different industry? And use this concept in a different industry without violating? And then you go back? Yeah, that's why it's, you know, it takes 12 weeks to draft the patent because you're constantly look looking at it,
or longer. Yeah. We always say we do an exercise, even with building. But definitely there are patents where we say, All right, let's think of a way to do it. Now we need to sit down and think of three more ways through other ways to do it. And around it that's similar, but not the same, that would have the same result and would address the problem the same way, and fill the void in the market the same way. So and then we patent those as well. So yeah, you definitely have to put on your hat as a competitor, and how could I get around this? Like for mine? Could they get around it by I don't know, putting a projector in the ceiling and projecting like physically. So we covered that, you know, and and you know, prior art, sometimes somebody else has patented it, and you have to go and talk to them about licensing. We didn't have that with this. But that's another, you know, situation that you're in. So,
right. Yeah, we had an as an example. So our viewers can kind of visualize I had, at one point, I had an inventor whose concept was a device that attached to a water heater, so that if there was a fire in the vicinity of the water heater, it would trigger the health and put the water out, and douse the fire. The inventor was dead set on using slicks sprinkler heads that already existed in commercial buildings that last Bobe. And this was when this bug reaches a certain temperature, it shatters and that would trigger the valve. As a patent attorney, I had to look at it and say, Okay, that's one way to tell that there's a fire is temperature. But what if you saw a competitor used a smoke detector to fight it?
Because it's gonna ask about that. Yeah, there's other ways to get fire. You know,
there's a fire in the vicinity lino oxygen sensor, or whatever else, carbon dioxide
gas. Other things, you know, you'd have? Yeah, exactly. And they, they hadn't thought of that.
No, nope. The? Yes.
It's why you need a good patent attorney, do you say have you thought about it this way, and someone who really knows your space like you need it, because there's different types of patent attorneys, like if you're doing software, don't go to don't go to one that's dealt deal, you know, with just hardware stuff. And they're like, I'm really good at figuring out how to, you know, because often correct me if I'm wrong, but I know this to be true of our patent attorneys, most patent attorneys have a previous degree in an area. So they're like an electrical engineer, or they're like, you know, a software developer themselves or whatnot. So that's other, find the person who has a background in what you're doing. So they understand it.
Exactly, and very least, should be at a law firm that has, you know, patent patent law firms that kind of unusual in terms of lawyers in general, that we hired engineers and scientists, which firms don't have. So yeah. Sometimes if an invention spans across different industries, you need to have a law firm that has that capability. So they might have your idea might be software, but maybe it triggers something mechanical and there might be a way or a need to protect that mechanical object as well. So
maybe you've developed something that has a hinge in it that you've developed, you know, a new design for a hinge that's very, you know, you need that hinge pants. Yeah, there's a lot of different we have hardware patents to that we haven't pursued yet. But and we had a different law firm handle the the hardware patents, for example, and I have separate so mice My medical business has a different law firm than my aerospace business, because Aerospace is a very different business than medicine, for example. Yeah, so having good lawyers like and I would not cheap out on your lawyers, that's the one place like I said, I would bleed for my patents, that is not the place you want to save money is with a lawyer, you want to pay for somebody, that's good. Same thing with like a doctor, you wouldn't go to, hey, I know your your wife's a dentist, do you think she could do a nose job on me? I wouldn't do that, you know? Or can she do a little bit of heart surgery, you want to go to somebody who's good. And you, you get you, you get what you pay for? Unless your brother happens to be the best patent attorney in the world, then, you know, even then, there's a bit of a bias there, that can be a problem. So I would, I would advise not to cheap out on your patents? Well, and
even the best, you know, they say a lawyer that represents himself has a fool for a client, because you can't be unbiased. So and that's why surgeons are not, you know, they're not, they might be the best surgeon in the world. But if it's their mom's heart surgery, they're not the best person to perform that, because they can't be unbiased. That's right. On that, so no, that's that's definitely good advice. Tell us about were there any complications? That probably lots of them any entrepreneur has, that you ran into when you're trying to develop your idea? Hmm,
I mean, just for so ours was interesting, because it was so lofty, and it sounded like I mean, if you look, if you ever Googled me, it sounds a tacky to say, but that one of my first media stories that they did, they called it Star Trek surgery, because it sounds so bizarre and weird. It sounds like you know, Minority Report, which actually is similar to it. So we needed. The problem was we didn't have hardware to display what we were building. So that was tricky at first. So even when I was writing the patents, after the provisional, then we had to narrow on the patents. I was trying to get people's demos for their like, not even on the market devices so that we could just test the software, which and then these companies who are trying to get funding, we're like, wait, what, what's your application that you might use our glasses on? It's like, oh, no, no, no, no, no, nevermind, I'm just gonna hope hope that this displays properly and, and it did, luckily. And it can be used today on a screen now too, because video cards are where they weren't then. But so that was a bit tricky. We were building for a year not knowing if what we were building could actually be displayed, just, you know, on hope and faith. Um, what else? I mean, Scott, and I have a really interesting way of so a lot of times, companies will do a tremendous amount of research and market research and analytics to see is this needed? What's the market capture? Who's our competitors, so we do the opposite. When we're writing patents, we completely unplug from media. And we didn't look at all if anybody else had done it. Because I have the theory that will do it better. And if we can't do it better than good for them for doing it better than me. Kudos. So the other reason for that is, was science fiction. And definitely we stayed away, it was really hard to do that we were employed for a couple of years while we were back to ironing out some more claims now. So I don't want to accidentally have somebody else's idea imprinted on on my intellectual property. So I would, if you've never built a house before, and never seen a house before, and someone said, go build the best dwelling for you, you would build the most streamlined dwelling for you that you needed in that environment. But once you've seen a house, your diagram will always be a square, like every kid draws the same house, a square with a triangle, roof and a door. So I didn't want to have an imprint of somebody else's ideas in within our intellectual property. And also, I didn't want to limit myself. So we're very out of the box thinkers. So that is an interesting process to try and write patents. And it works for us. It's not for everybody, but it works for us. Within that we didn't really run into well, we did run into some problems with our patent getting granted because the what are they called? You know, at the patent office, the person who reviewer examiners patent exam, the examiner didn't understand what our stuff did. So we actually had to go do it like in in person demo, because they couldn't conceptualize what it was. They kept saying, Oh, no, I think they said we were in in violation of like a Kodak. You know, or, like, No, you're taking pictures. We're like, no, no, no, we're not taking pictures. We're displaying it. We're displaying like software. Okay, so it's like Polaroid. Nope. So we had to fly to rally maybe wherever it was and do an in person demo with the guy and say here do you get it? Okay, I get it now. But we were running into all of these like having to it was getting actually pretty expensive, like $40,000 Each time to have to defend No, no, this is how we're different. We're not at all a camera note. Once again, we're not a film either. So that was tricky doing something that's so out of the box, and having to explain it to somebody and the reviewers non technical, they're just, you know, at the patent office, you get who you get, and you get them for the whole case. And then actually, I ended up going to his supervisor and saying, Alright, enough of this, I want you to look it over, because it still was, you know, didn't quite understand it. So that that that was a bit tricky and expensive.
Well, and part of that is that the patent office has not adapted to software. Yeah, you know, you can't, they don't want it, they want to have the software explained in a written document with black and white drawings. So yeah, that challenge, but um, we're gone a little bit over time. So what I want to make a couple announcements. And if you have an interest in seeing a mechanical invention, that's Friday, the inventor of the snappad screw, Nancy, today, she is going to be joining in, we'll have q&a with her about her journey in creating an eyeglass repair kit. So that'll be on. That should be interesting. She's created the easiest and simplest eyeglass repair kit, and we'll have a link up in our Facebook Channel or Facebook page, private Facebook page, the inventors mastermind, and Jenny, you can post that in the chat box right now, if you want. And then coming up on October, October 28, to the 38th. I'll be hosting a virtual Summit, a three day summit for inventors. And we'll have lots of information coming up in the upcoming weeks about that. But right now, Chandra, I can't thank you enough for joining us. It's such a pleasure to have an award winning inventor of your caliber here, that still willing to take us back in time to when you face those initial challenges, because that hasn't changed. You know, I'm sure the memory of that is still fresh as if it was yesterday. And it's it is yeah. Within vendors. So thank you and then for the viewers thank you for attending this episode of Ask the patent Professor