Stepping into the shoes of a patient with a chronic disease, you can sympathize with the fact that they rarely spend time outside the hospital. What with the unpleasant food and the lack of family around to keep them from getting bored, a chronic patient's dream is to spend time at home as much as possible, and telemedicine strives to make this happen. With hospitals getting into telemedicine, iRobot -- the maker of the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner -- wants to get a piece of the pie. It will invest $6 million in InTouch Health (News - Alert), giving it a sizeable stake in the company.
The multi-million dollar agreement between iRobot and InTouch Health will be part of a joint project between the two companies to develop an iRobot-style solution for healthcare centers. InTouch Health has already gotten a green light from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop telepresence solutions for hospitals, and has already been at it in 80 different healthcare centers in different countries. Its telepresence product currently lets physicians keep in touch with their patients and even use a robotic interface that allows them to examine their patients. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the hospitals using InTouch's telepresence interface for neurologists. Doctors using the interface can figure out if their patients are undergoing a stroke and they can administer the proper medication remotely.
iRobot has shown a vested interest in helping chronic patients who want to spend time in their homes and, naturally, InTouch caught wind of this. So, InTouch is going to give iRobot the chance to work directly with its own clientele and patients to aid in the development of solutions that will help make the experience much more versatile. From the joint announcement: "Working closely together, iRobot and InTouch will collaborate on a wide variety of technologies across each company's patent portfolio and leverage combined expertise in remote presence telemedicine solutions."
CEO of iRobot, Colin Angle, said that iRobot can take what InTouch Health has done and make it reach further than it's anticipated. "InTouch focused on the technology of providing high-quality audio-video feeds from the robot back to the doctor, giving the doctor effective control over the robot with a joystick style interface," says Angle. "That's an effective interface for a certain class of doctors. But more sophisticated technology would make these robots easier to use by a broader class of physicians, not just the technological enthusiasts."
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Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO. Follow us on Twitter.Miguel Leiva-Gomez is a professional writer with experience in computer sciences, technology, and gadgets. He has written for multiple technology and travel outlets and owns his own tech blog called The Tech Guy, where he writes educational, informative, and sometimes comedic articles for an audience that is less versed in technology.
Edited by Rich Steeves