Conrad presented the acne-clearing device and explained that he wanted a new heating element design that would be resistant to oils and acids, with a cylindrical shape that would be 0.0312 inch in diameter and would provide temperature feedback through resistance change. In addition, the heater needed to run on no more than 5 volts, consume approximately 5 watts during operation, and, most importantly, be cost competitive.

SATOP directed Conrad to Allen J. Saad, of The Boeing Company, a principal design engineer at Kennedy Space Center. Saad assessed the design and made several major contributions. He was able to give the company engineering advice toward designing a new element that reduced the cost of the heating element from about $80 each to just 10 cents, making the product more marketable. Shortly after meeting with Saad, Conrad was able to implement the design modifications and take the product to market. It is now the highest selling overthe-counter medical device for the treatment of acne.

ImageIn 2006, the product, dubbed Zeno, was named the "SATOP Texas Success Story of the Year." Conrad had positive things to say about the partnership as well: "Without the help I received from SATOP, the product would likely still be in my garage. Instead, we now have three offices, and sales are skyrocketing."

The company has expanded greatly, with offices in Houston and Seattle, and a manufacturing facility in Penang, Malaysia, that country's only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved facility.

Product Outcome

Two to three 2.5-minute treatments spread over 24 hours are sufficient for most pimples. Often, only one treatment is needed.
According to Tyrell, nearly 90 million people in the United States spend more than $2 billion a year on acne treatments, with limited results and sometimes significant side effects. Its over-the-counter device, Zeno, has been cleared by the FDA, and is on the market to offer an effective solution to this widespread problem.

Zeno employs proprietary ClearPoint technology to provide relief of mild to moderate inflammatory acne. It delivers a precisely controlled low-level dosage of heat to the blemish, causing the bacteria at the root of more than 90 percent of acne to self-destruct. The heat is the exact temperature needed to kill the bacteria while still being below the point at which healthy skin would be damaged, and an internal microprocessor continually modulates the temperature to match the heat absorption of the individual user. Replaceable treatment tips ensure thermal efficiency over the life of the product.

Zeno spot-treats acne. Clinical trials showed that 90 percent of blemishes treated with Zeno faded or disappeared within 24 to 48 hours. Over the course of 12 to 24 hours, the user applies the device to the affected area for two or three treatment cycles of 2.5 minutes each. That is usually all that it takes, though it can also still be safely used in conjunction with other acne treatments, including over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Within its first year on the market, Zeno was cited by various publications for several awards, including Allure's 2005 "Best of Beauty," Marie Claire's "10 Best Gadgets for Girls," and Popular Science's 2005 "Best of What's New." It is available in three models: Zeno, Zeno Pro, and Zeno MD.

A variation of the Zeno for use in treating herpetic lesions such as cold sores, by killing the virus that causes them, is currently undergoing FDA trials.