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SYMBIS Surgical System Named To 2014 Space Technology Hall Of Fame

MRI-compatible robot leveraged from space program technology inspired by goal to improve neurosurgical precision and outcomes

MINNEAPOLIS, May 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - IMRIS Inc. (NASDAQ: IMRS; TSX: IM) ("IMRIS" or the "Company") today announced that the SYMBIS Surgical System - the second generation of the neuroArm® / SYMBIS™ program - is a 2014 inductee into the Space Technology Hall of Fame. The Space Foundation honor is directed at technologies originally developed for space exploration that are being transformed into products to help improve the quality of life on Earth.

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"As an element of the future of neurosurgery, SYMBIS involves developing more precise minimally-invasive techniques with motion refinement where surgeons can reach small and eloquent areas to remove diseased tissue, and cause no damage to the adjacent delicate structures to protect the patient's quality of life and maximize the success of the surgery," said Meir Dahan, IMRIS Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Research and Development.

The SYMBIS program originated in 2002 under the name neuroArm as a collaborative research concept primarily between the University of Calgary and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) - the company which developed large robotic arms for the International Space Station and US space shuttle programs. Design work initially focused on developing haptic (touch sensing) control mechanisms, special motors, semi-automated surgical tool exchange protocols, and communications technologies. The intent was to pair near real-time, high-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) and anatomical images with robotic arm manipulation technologies to provide neurosurgeons with image guidance, precision, accuracy and dexterity.

"Where SYMBIS has come from and is heading to, represents collaborations of many interdisciplinary creative teams of engineers, scientists and surgeons. Our goal was to integrate the surgeon's skills and decision making with mechanized accuracy," said Dr. Garnette Sutherland, Professor of Neurosurgery at University of Calgary, who led the team which developed the original robot, neuroArm. "This honor and research illustrates how the merging of human surgical experience with machines and computerized technology is driving neurosurgical advancement towards more minimalism and finer accuracy."

The SYMBIS system now consists of two manipulator arms with eight degrees of freedom of movement on a mobile base and a remote workstation where a surgeon sits and is provided with a virtual environment that recreates the sight, sound and touch of surgery. The arms operate surgical tools only in conjunction with the surgeon's remote hand movements. (The SYMBIS Surgical System is not currently available for sale.)

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