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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

iRobot invades Hospitals with "AVA InTouch"

From the battlefield to the hospital, that´s the new post-war strategy of iRobot. The company intensifies its invasion of the healthcare market by investing $ 6 million in InTouch Health, which represents a minority position in the company.

iRobot Healthcare Strategy
In 2009 iRobot established a healthcare business unit, aimed at exploring the potential of robotics as an assistive technology.

In January 2011 the new iRobot AVA platform was presented first time at CES as "a breakthrough mobile robotics platform developed to help robot designers, application developers and market innovation specialists expedite the pursuit of practical, affordable mobile robotic solutions." Healthcare was announces as one potential application market.
In July 2011 iRobot and InTouch Health signed a joint development and licensing agreement to explore potential opportunities for healthcare applications on iRobot platforms such as the iRobot Ava mobile robotics platform. The agreement included extensive cross-licensing of the companies’ patent portfolios, giving the collaboration a formidable patent position.

InTouch Health
Santa Barbara-based InTouch Health, founded in 2002,  develops, manufactures, and markets a FDA-cleared  remote presence robotic system, a wireless, mobile robot featuring a two-way video and audio computer system that allows physicians to monitor and interact with patients remotely. The company has grown fast from $4,6 million revenues in 2007 to $20,9 million in 2010, now  employing about 115 people.
InTouch Health has more than 400 hospital locations on six continents enrolled in its Remote Presence telemedicine network for the delivery of telemedicine services such as stroke, critical care, cardiology, trauma, pediatrics, neonatology, psychiatry, language translation, and clinical education and surgical/procedure mentoring.
According to a study published in The American Journal (2011) 202, 843– 847 of Surgery robotic telepresence was viewed positively by patients and their families in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU). 

Telepresence Competitor Dispute 
In October 2007 InTouch Technologies sued HeadThere over the alleged patent infringement. In April 2009 InTouch Technologies settled a legal dispute with HeadThere Inc. over the firm's patents. According to InTouch Technologies, HeadThere has agreed to cease its alleged infringing activities--including promotion and sale of its products in the US--and both companies will release each other from liability related to the litigation. InTouch has also granted HeadThere a limited license to its certain U.S. patents, for products to be sold outside the United States. Financial details of the settlement were not released. HeadThere was developing a video conferencing robot targeted at the health care industry, but moved to Europe and started a new company in Sweden 2008 called Giraff Technologies AB.  The company employs 2 people and revenues FY 2011 was 2,6 million SEK.

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