Physicist George Pratt's invention has found its niche, but it didn't happen easily. Pratt, a professor in MIT's department of electrical engineering and computer science, had devised an ultrasound method that could be used to test bone strength. The patented technology was initially licensed to Equine Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology Inc. (Unionville, Pa.) for use in the examination of horses' legs. When that idea fizzled, EQB licensed the technology to businessman Thomas Sherwin, president of three-year-old Osteo-Technology (Cambridge, Mass.), for applications in the treatment of osteoporosis. By using low-energy sound waves to "stress" bones and measure their resilience, Osteo-Technology has designed a device that could aid in the early detection of osteoporosis. While other types of ultrasound examinations are used in medicine, this application of the technology had not been used with satisfaction in humans before. "We've had to overcome relatively high levels of skepticism," says Sherwin. Apparently they've been...

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