• Micro-X embarking on ‘biggest advancement in X-ray since its invention’ in 1895
  • Its X-ray technology is smaller, lighter, more portable and faster than ever before
  • Building its capability not just in medical sector but also security and defence

X-ray imaging opened a world of new possibilities when first invented by German physicist Dr Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895, however it has remained largely unchanged since its inception.

But Micro-X (ASX:MX1)  is embarking on what it believes is the biggest advancement in X-ray since its invention almost 130 years ago as the world’s first company to introduce a product to the market using an electronic X-ray tube with a cold electron source material, rather than the traditional heated filament.

Rather than using heat to control the number of X-rays, MX1’s tech is controlled by a small voltage with its patented carbon nanotube technology ensuring its products are smaller, lighter, more portable and faster than ever before.

The game-changing tech – offering more precisely controlled imaging – is set to benefit not only the medical markets but also defence and security.

MX1 is developing solutions to protect communities from the threat and transmission of explosives, prohibitive weapons, contraband, narcotics, and other security risks.

Stockhead caught up with MX1 CEO Kingsley Hall along with chief scientist and CEO of Micro-X Inc, the company’s US subsidiary, Brian Gonzales, from their US base in SeaTac, in Seattle.

MX1 also has a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and base in Adelaide’s Tonsley innovation district.


Reimaging airport security

MX1’s Miniature Baggage Scanner provides full 3D computed tomography (CT) reconstruction and backscatter X-ray technology to enable detection of hidden threats.

Gonzales says unlike current available options, MX1’s compact, high-resolution security X-ray machine will remove the need to unpack bags or layers for successful detection.

The scanner provides the foundation of MX1’s Airport Self-Service Checkpoint, which aims to alleviate one of the biggest choke points at any airport.

The unmanned, self-service portal combines scanning of personal effects and baggage with a passport reader and body scanner into one.

Gonzales says the portal eliminates a need for high staffing to monitor baggage security, while increasing efficiency without compromising on safety.

MX1 last year announced an extension of its contract worth up $21 million with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop the passenger self-screen checkpoint system.

The contract extension enables MX1, together with its partners, to build and test fully
integrated self‐screening stations in live US airport environments with travelling passengers.

The DHS project aims to have a fully integrated self-screening security system that is ready to transform the passenger security experience across the US’s 440 airports.

“What enables us to reimagine security is the small CT scanner and the first prototype of that is currently being assessed by DHS in their laboratories,” Gonzales says.

“We’re doing data collection and imaging lots of potentially suspect items in every way possible so we can build artificial intelligence (AI) based on that.

“We’ve delivered one prototype CT scanner to the government and hopefully in the next few months will build a second for the government.”

Gonzales says MX1 then plans to build a third protype that will come together with the whole module. The goal by the end of CY24 is that the first prototype self-screening module will be in a different lab for testing as an integrated system.

“It’s a lab they’ve set up that mimics an airport and they can bring in real operators, they have metrics they’re interested in and from there we will build out additional modules,” he says.

“Hopefully, between a year-and-a-half to two years from now they’ll be in real airport testing.

“We have the opportunity in both the lab and in an airport to refine a solution that meets everyone’s needs because it’s about improved security, improved passenger experience, improved officer efficiency.”

Gonzales says the tech has been proven at the base level but it’s now about building up its capability.


Improving bomb detection

MX1 received the first order for its Argus improvised explosive devices (IED) X-ray camera unit for improved bomb detection from a UAE company promoting themselves as an early adopter of innovative tech for national security applications in March 2024.

Argus improves on the usual dangerous practice for detecting a bomb, where a technician must approach the suspect device or package to get a detector plate behind it to X-ray the contents without moving the device itself.

MX1’s Argus – about the size of a large cereal box – enables bomb disposal technicians to safely image suspect packages remotely with greater clarity than ever before with the camera able to be deployed safely by an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) or robot.

The Argus has attracted interest from key global players in the defence sector including the FBI, US military and police departments following successful field tests.

“It is a disruptive technology changing the way people have operated in the IED identification space,” Hall says.

“It’s quite beneficial to leave units with organisations to trial them.”

MX1 recently completed a $4m placement at 9.5 cents/share and conducted a SPP closing on May 23, which is expected to raise a further $1m. Hall says funds raised will help to build up a pool of units for demonstration and trial.

“Not only has Argus been seen as safe to use but we’ve been able to identify additional adjacent use cases such as a search market so looking for contraband, hidden weapons or drugs that are hidden in cars or walls,” he says.

“Because it is robot deployable Argus can do things that traditional X-rays can’t because they can’t get to some of the locations.


Medical use case

There is also an extensive use case for MX1’s technology in the medical field. The company is developing world-first point of care miniature brain CT scanner to detect strokes in ambulances before reaching a hospital.

The technology funded through $8m of a $40m grant awarded to the Australian Stroke Alliance under the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

The company is also making strong progress with its Mobile Digital Radiology (DR) business unit that includes sales of its Rover Plus and Rover x-ray systems.

In its recent quarterly update MX1 reported the Mobile DR business unit had recorded $5.3m in revenues for FY24, up 120% on pcp and 40% on full year revenues for FY23 as the business continues to achieve its target to be self-sustaining.

“We’ve got a better margin than we have with Rover in the past and the price point is better,” Hall says.

“We now sell exclusively the Rover Plus, which is the high-powered version with the high-voltage generator we make ourselves.”


Lifting commercial expertise

It’s been 12 months since Hall stepped into the role of CEO from CFO and Gonzales also took on the additional role of CEO of Micro-X Inc.

“Our company has always been really highly regarded for our development capability,” Hall says.

“But what has been important is to lift our commercial expertise and performance to match that of the development team and progress we’ve made in this area over the past 12 months has been high.

“Sales are stronger, the business is tighter from a cost perspective, we’re putting our money into areas we really needed to be so development capability and recently appointed a chief sales officer in the US to build a strong sales and customer focus.”


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