Imagine this scenario: you purchase a new Samsung television. At first, everything is working great—until one day you notice you are no longer able to watch Blu-rays through your Sony player. After doing some investigating, you discover that Samsung now requires that only their Blu-ray players can be hooked up to their television, unless you want to pay a charge to have Sony’s signal decrypted and playable.
While this situation is fictional—and would likely cause an uproar if it were to be implemented—the sad fact is that is beginning to happen in dentistry today. While manufacturers would love for customers to use all of the products within their portfolio, the truth is that different dental professionals have different preferences. They may prefer one dental practice management or imaging software over another, but still prefer a sensor or intraoral camera from a different company. This is where TWAIN comes in.
What is TWAIN?
TWAIN is the universal communication protocol that allows software to open files captured with another device. For example, the first scanners utilized TWAIN drivers so users could open the files up in Photoshop. Almost everything we use today already has TWAIN drivers that “decrypt” the information for us—and this has made it such an ingrained expectation of how our electronics should work, most of us don’t even give thought to it.
Most 2D imaging systems used in dentistry offer TWAIN drivers—from intraoral cameras and digital sensors to more sophisticated technology, such as panoramic systems. Hardware manufacturers do everything possible to put together a driver with TWAIN capabilities so customers can use it with the software of their choice. On the flip side of that, most software developers allow these TWAIN drivers to work, so their users can access the images. Unfortunately…
Some Companies Charge for TWAIN Compatibility
While the majority of software developers play fair, allowing any image to be opened within the program, not everyone is being so open. Some manufacturers restrict TWAIN capability to prevent or discourage the use of third-party hardware. These companies may start off by allowing unrestricted compatibility and then requiring a monthly fee for this same access.
Dental professionals, like yourself, should be free to use the software and hardware that meets your needs. At Carestream Dental, we believe that all systems should be open—in fact, that was the basis of our CAD/CAM development. While TWAIN doesn’t always mean a seamless integration, it is the best integration solution available to put together two products of different origins.
What are your feelings on companies who charge their users for TWAIN compatibility? We would love to discuss this with you in the comment section below.