GeckoSystems US Discussing Strategic Robotic Applications with UK Defense Contractor
CONYERS, Ga., Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- GeckoSystems International Corporation (Pink Sheets: GOSY) (http://www.geckosystems.com/) announced today that a United Kingdom (UK) defense manufacturer has signed a bilateral non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with GeckoSystems and has expressed interest in entering into a joint venture focused on marketing and research and development projects in the European Union (EU) and US marketplaces that are in line with the UK military heritage of the company.
This announcement comes on the heels of an expected joint venture with a Chinese company to produce a 21st Century "collision proof" wheelchair and a partnership with ZMP of Japan which will incorporate GeckoSystems artificial intelligence (AI) navigation system into projects as diverse as automated vehicles and personal service robots. GeckoSystems is establishing an international footprint in the emerging mobile robotics industry, revolutionizing their development and usage with "Mobile Robot Solutions for Safety, Security and Service(tm)."
The migration of technology developed for the company's CareBot™, a mobile service robot (MSR) designed to enhance the safety and independence of senior citizens, to a wheelchair that gives these same benefits to the disabled, is "proof of concept" that GeckoSystems mobile robot solutions can be adapted to many platforms that were not specifically designed for this technology.
"All of us here at GeckoSystems are excited about this development. Due to the nature of the upcoming discussions I feel it is in the best interest of all parties involved to withhold the name of this UK defense manufacturer at this time. I believe their present interest is due in no small part to our recent success with our "collision proof" wheelchair prototype. This application is proof of concept and clearly demonstrates the portability and application of GeckoNav™, our proprietary AI automatic, self-navigation software to a wide variety of markets, including health care and the defense industry.
"We have diligently searched for a sophisticated defense contractor who would be cognizant of the potentially lethal applications of robotic software technologies. We are pleased to announce that this UK defense manufacturer has agreed to our "safety clause" in our NDA and shares our concern and prudence in this matter. This NDA is a breakthrough for the company, a reward for a long time effort in marketing to the defense industry domestically and abroad," reflected Martin Spencer, president/CEO, GeckoSystems International.
This specific "safety clause" reads as follows:
Both parties understand and agree with the general concerns that mobile robot solutions may be used to lethally harm persons, other living things, property, and a country's infrastructure if terrorists, criminals, or other private or public enemies of peace, security, and tranquility were to secure access to and/or use of them. Therefore both parties completely agree that MSR safety is of the greatest importance in the utilization of MSR technologies. All MSR technologies shared by both parties in any manner will be treated with the utmost secrecy and respect due to that reality and potential.
GeckoSystems' "Safety Paradigm Discussion For Mobile Service Robots" is here:
The UK defense contractor's semi-autonomous unmanned vehicles operate on the ground and in the air using both remote and ground controlled stations. Due to their current success in this area the UK has given this notable company additional contracts for UGVs with collision avoidance capability under both full and semi autonomous control. Their vehicles use both electric power and fossil fuels for power and the drive system. It has state of the art integrated sensor arrays and is functional in an urban environment.
"Our recent footholds in international markets are not surprising given the current trend for US manufacturers to extend their operations internationally as we become more export driven. Our 1300 plus stockholders can be assured that GeckoSystems is reaching beyond the domestic market and aiming for global success," concluded Spencer.
About GeckoSystems Intl. Corp.:
GeckoSystems' vision is to create practical, mobile robot solutions for personal, business, and government use. They are committed to deliver service robots of high quality that are safe, cost effective, and gratifying for all stakeholders. GeckoSystems is a publicly traded company as GOSY.pk in the USA.
Their website is at http://www.geckosystems.com/
For over fourteen years it has been CEO Martin Spencer's dream to make people's lives better through robotic technology.
GeckoSystems' Mobile Robot Solutions Improve Wheelchair Safety
Initial tests of GeckoSystems new "collision proof" wheelchair prototype have been completed. Videos on their website clearly demonstrate the enhanced safety features of a power wheelchair upgraded with GeckoSystems technology. You will see that the upgrade prevents dangerous collisions with both stationary and moving obstacles regardless of joystick position. These videos are available at http://www.geckosystems.com/markets/wheelchair.php
There are approximately 2.2 million people in the United States alone that use a wheelchair for everyday activities. Of that 2.2 million 40% find it almost impossible to steer using controls now on the market. Industry sources estimate that the total world wheelchair market is approximately 3.5 million chairs per year. The personal mobility market in the U.S. is $1.2 billion annually.
Recent market research conducted by GeckoSystems has revealed that in addition to users who rely on power wheelchairs for daily mobility, there is a demand for the collision proof wheelchair in the professional market.
Often elderly residents of assisted care facilities and nursing homes will begin to have difficulty controlling a power wheelchair as their condition deteriorates. Together a typical power wheelchair and its occupant weigh approximately 250-350 pounds. An out of control wheelchair can easily damage walls, furniture, or even endanger other patients or staff. The worst-case scenario is a poorly controlled wheelchair that results in traumatic physical damage to the resident or another person in the facility.
When this situation arises, management must address this harsh reality quickly. Elderly residents are often required to suddenly relocate from a familiar care facility to a new facility capable of providing a higher level of care. The family is forced to deal with the emotional issues of the move (further loss of independence, dignity for their parents, spouse, etc.) and in addition there is often a dramatic increase in the monthly cost of providing care for their loved one.
Installation of a "collision proof" upgrade to their wheelchair before the damage is done would forestall forced relocation and the trauma and expense that go with it. The upgrade would pay for itself in two to three months. GeckoSystems believes this is a significant market critically in need of a solution.
The software used to dramatically improve wheelchair safety is adapted from the suite of hardware and software solutions GeckoSystems has developed for their elder care and personal assistance robot, the CareBot™. (Now that Alpha testing is completed, the CareBot is expected to go into Beta testing in 2012.) An overview of these technologies is available at http://www.geckosystems.com/technologies/ .
"The release of the Microsoft Kinect™ depth camera and its cost advantage over traditional machine vision solutions has helped the company further reduce the projected cost of the upgrade kit. This will make improved safety more affordable for thousands who presently rely on a wheelchair for personal mobility," reflected Spencer.
Due to their success in retrofitting the initial prototype collision proof wheelchair, GeckoSystems recently received a second wheelchair from Imasen, the oldest wheelchair manufacturer in Japan. This second wheelchair will be used for additional R&D and eventual return to Japan for first hand evaluation. (http://www.geckosystems.com/investors/press_releases/20110317_GeckoSystems_SellsMobileRobotSolutions.php )
GeckoSteer™ is a new software and computer interface that was developed specifically for this application. It lies between the mechanical joystick and GeckoNav™, advanced automatic self-navigation software. GeckoSteer was needed to compensate for spasticity, tremor, and other involuntary movements associated with debilitating diseases that affect many wheelchair users.
It should be noted that GeckoSystems now has "proof of concept" for its proprietary suite of Mobile Robot Solutions for Safety, Security and Service™ which may be migrated to mobile platforms (as in the wheelchair) that were not originally designed to be under AI software navigation control. Using GeckoSystems' technology, the company expects many other market opportunities to open up for them in both the domestic and international marketplaces. The sale of collision proof safety upgrades for wheelchairs represents "low hanging fruit" that is ideal for GeckoSystems' entry into the retail market because of the large number of power wheelchairs in use and the need for safety upgrades that is expected to lead to rapid adoption in the market.
GeckoSystems has been developing innovative robotic technology for over fourteen years. It is CEO Martin Spencer's dream to make people's lives better through robotic technology.
GeckoSystems, Star Wars ™ Technology
Although the company's primary focus has been an elder care robot, the CareBot™ AI (artificial intelligence) software technology developed for this project is being marketed internationally. The company believes many devices in use today can be improved through the use of its AI navigation software system. The company expects their "collision proof" wheelchair and an upgrade for existing wheelchairs will be the first product of this sort to be marketed.
The company has successfully completed an Alpha trial of its CareBot personal assistance robot for the elderly. It was tested in a home care setting and received enthusiastic support from both caregivers and care receivers. The company believes that the CareBot will increase the safety and well being of its elderly charges while decreasing stress on the caregiver and the family.
Gecko Systems is preparing for Beta testing of the CareBot prior to full-scale production and marketing. CareBot has recently incorporated Microsoft Kinect motion sensors that will result in a significant cost reduction.
About the CareBot:
GeckoSystems has focused on mobile robot safety for over fourteen years. Their first product, a family care robot, has multiple layers of safety precautions. These safeguards are enabled three ways: mechanical, electronic, and using AI computer software.
- First, the robot is very stable and difficult to tip over since nearly seventy percent of its weight is less than eight inches above the floor and sits low between large, ten-inch diameter wheels. The wheels are wide and soft enough such that if the robot did go over a child's arm, for example, it would not break the skin or any bones.
- Second, multiple layers of sensors are fused to provide a safety umbrella to enable actionable situational awareness. Going outward from the center of the CareBot is the GeckoTactileShroud(tm), which detects where on its shroud it has been bumped by people or animals. The GeckoImager(tm) detects virtually everything in the front and to the sides of this fully autonomous mobile robot up to sixty inches. Obstacles more distant are detected by twin ultrasonic rangefinders.
- Third, the advanced AI navigation software, GeckoNav(tm), takes in the hundreds of sensor readings per second and using its high level situational awareness, consistently avoids unforeseen static and/or dynamic obstacles for safe movements.
Like an automobile, the CareBot is made from steel, aluminum, plastic, and electronics, but with ten to twenty times the amount of software running. It has an aluminum frame, plastic shroud, two independently driven wheels, multiple sensor systems, microprocessors and several onboard computers connected by a local area network (LAN). The microprocessors directly interact with the sensor systems and transmit data to the onboard computers. The onboard computers each run independent, highly specialized cooperative/subsumptive artificial intelligence (AI) software programs, GeckoSavants, which interact to complete tasks in a timely, intelligent and common sense manner. GeckoSuper, GeckoNav, GeckoChat, GeckoScheduler and GeckoTrak are primary, high level GeckoSavants. GeckoNav is responsible for maneuvering, avoiding dynamic and/or static obstacles, seeking waypoints and patrolling. GeckoChat is responsible for interaction with the care-receiver such as answering questions, assisting with daily routines and reminders, and responding to other verbal commands. GeckoTrak, which is mostly transparent to the user, enables the CareBot to maintain proximity to the care-receiver using sensor fusion. The CareBot is a new type of Internet appliance, a personal assistant life support robot, which is accessible for remote video/audio monitoring and telepresence.
ROI Discussion of the CareBot:
GeckoSystems leads their mobile service robot product line with the CareBot - positive ROI for a family in anywhere from a few days, (Scenario 1) to a little over two months in other cases, (Scenario 2) and probably within a year for almost all purchasers. (Scenario 3)
Scenario 1: Patient comes home after major surgery or perhaps a heart attack and an unexpected complication or relapse occurs. Bio monitoring from the CareBot alerts hospital and patient is readmitted before the situation becomes critical. Patient is stabilized in ER and released or a hospital stay of weeks is shortened to a few days.
Scenario 2: Elder is at home or staying with family. Mental or physical condition becomes such that they are afraid to leave them at home for even a few minutes without having someone there. Stress becomes too much and family considers putting them in a nursing home but the cost is $70,000 per year (actual average cost used).
The CareBot permits the caregiver to go to the store, take the kids to soccer, parents can go out to dinner, and stress is relieved without putting the elder in a nursing home. This can be done via a webcam on the CareBot. The care receiver is safer, happier and healthier, the family doesn't feel guilty, and the CareBot pays for itself in about nine weeks.
Scenario 3: Elder is living at home, happy, relatively healthy and has an active social life. Elder does have a problem with high blood pressure though, there is a history of stokes in the family, and does not always remember to take their medicine. The Elder worries about intruders even though they live in a safe neighborhood.
Closest child is 50 miles away, others are hundreds or thousands of miles away. First child has to spend a lot of time checking in on elder, is angry with the other kids because they don't seem to take enough responsibility. Hiring live in help would be $3-500 per week, hiring someone just to check in on her frequently would be $500 a month and they worry that they might make a mistake and hire someone who would take advantage of their loved one or something would happen between "check in" times.
The three of them chip in chip in $4000 apiece for a CareBot. All three can check in on the Elder frequently and the one who lives 50 miles away no longer feels like he has all the responsibility.
The CareBot makes sure medicine is taken on schedule; it connects to family via Skype with video calls when needed or when Elder gets upset. If Elder thinks they hear something in the middle of the night, the CareBot can do an infrared scan inside the house and out into the yard to check for intruders, automatically alerting police if someone is spotted inside designated perimeter. If Elder has become too agitated and vital signs exceed programmed parameters, pre-designated family members, neighbors and/or paramedics are called.
At $1200 per month saved (the cost of cheapest live in help) the CareBot pays for itself in ten months even if the Elder continues to be independent and happy at home.
Conclusion: Once people start to understand how a CareBot is used and insurance companies figure out how much they will save, sales will accelerate dramatically due to pent up demand.
What Does a CareBot Do for the Care Giver?
The short answer is that it decreases the difficulty and stress for the caregiver that needs to watch over Grandma, Mom, or other family members most, if not much, of the time day in and day out due to concerns about their well being, safety, and security.
But first let's look at some other labor saving, automatic home appliances most of us use routinely. For example, needing to do two or more necessary chores and/or activities at the same time, like laundering clothes and preparing supper.
The automatic washing machine needs no human intervention after the dirty clothes are placed in the washer, the laundry powder poured in, and the desired wash cycle set. Then, this labor saving appliance runs automatically until the washed clothes are ready to be placed in another labor saving home appliance, the automatic clothes dryer. While the clothes are being washed and/or dried, the caregiver prepares supper using several time saving home appliances like the microwave oven, "crock" pot, blender, and conventional stove, with possible convection oven capabilities.
After supper, the dirty pots, pans, and dishes are placed in the automatic dishwasher to be washed and dried while the family retires to the den to watch TV, and/or the kids to do homework. Later, perhaps after the kids have gone to bed, the caregiver may then have the time to fold, sort, and put up the now freshly laundered clothes.
So what does a CareBot do for the caregiver? It is a new type of labor saving, time management automatic home appliance.
For example, the caregiver frequently feels time stress when they need to go shopping for 2 or 3 hours, and are uncomfortable when they have to be away for more than an hour or so. Time stress is much worse for the caregiver with a frail elderly parent that must be reminded to take medications at certain times of the day. How can the caregiver be away for 3-4 hours when Grandma must take her prescribed medication every 2 or 3 hours? If the caregiver is trapped in traffic for an hour or two beyond the 2 or 3 they expected to be gone, this "time stress" can be very difficult for the caregiver to moderate.
Not infrequently, the primary caregiver has a 24 hour, 7 days a week responsibility. After weeks and weeks of this sometimes tedious, if not onerous routine, how does the caregiver get a "day off?" To bring in an outsider is expensive (easily $75-125 per day for just 8 hours) and there is the concern that medication will be missed or the care receiver have an accident requiring immediate assistance by the caregiver, or someone they must designate. And the care receiver may be very resistant to a "stranger" coming in to her home and "running things."
So what is it worth for a care receiver to have an automatic system to help take care of Grandma? Just 3 or 4 days a month "off" on a daylong shopping trip, a visit with friends, or just take in a movie would cost $225-500 per month. And that scenario assumes that Grandma is willing to be taken care of by a "stranger" during those needed and appropriate days off.
So perhaps, an automatic caregiver, a CareBot, might be pretty handy, and potentially very cost effective from the primary caregiver's perspective.
What Does a CareBot Do for the Care Receiver?
It's a new kind of companion that always stays close to them enabling family and friends to care for them from afar. It tells them jokes, retells family anecdotes, reminds them to take medication, reminds them that family is coming over soon (or not at all), recites Bible verses, plays favorite songs and/or other music. It alerts them when unexpected visitors, or intruders are present. It notifies designated caregivers when a potentially harmful event has occurred, such as a fall, fire in the home, or simply been not found by the CareBot for too long. It responds to calls for help and notifies those that the caregiver determined should be immediately notified when any predetermined adverse event occurs.
The family can customize the personality of the CareBot. The voice's cadence can be fast or slow. The intonation can be breathy, or abrupt. The voice's volume can range from very loud to very soft. The response phrases from the CareBot for recognized words and phrases can be colloquial and/or unique to the family's own heritage. The personality can range from brassy to timid depending on how the care giver, and others appropriate, chooses it to be.
Generally, the care receiver is pleased at the prospect of family being able to drop in for a "virtual visit" using the onboard webcam and video monitor for at home "video conferencing." The care receiver may feel much more needed and appreciated when their far flung family and friends can "look in" on them any where in the world where they can get broadband internet access and simply chat for a bit.
Why is Grandma really interested in a CareBot? She wants to stay in her home, or her family's home, as long as she possibly can. What's that worth? Priceless. Or, an average nursing home is $5,000 per month for an environment that is too often the beginning of a spiral downward in the care receiver's health. That's probably $2-3K more per month for them to be placed where they really don't want to be. Financial payback on a CareBot? Less than a year- Emotional payback for the family to have this new automatic care giver? Nearly instantaneous-
Kinect Enabled Personal Robot video:
Above, the CareBot demonstrates static and dynamic obstacle avoidance as it backs in and out of a narrow and cluttered alley. There is no joystick control or programmed path; movements are smoother that those achieved using a joystick control. AI creates three low levels of obstacle avoidance: reactive, proactive, and contemplative. Subsumptive AI behavior enables the CareBot to reach its target destination after engaging in obstacle avoidance.
One CareBot™, One Family
About the Company's Business:
GeckoSystems stock is quoted in the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) markets, on the Pink OTC Current Information tier, under the ticker symbol GOSY.
Since 1997, GeckoSystems has developed a comprehensive, coherent, and sufficient suite of hardware and software inventions to enable a new type of home appliance (a personal companion robot) the CareBot(tm), to be created for the mass consumer marketplace. The suite of primary inventions includes: GeckoNav(tm), GeckoChat(tm) and GeckoTrak(tm).
The primary market for this product is the family for use in eldercare, care for the chronically ill, and childcare. The primary distribution channel for this new home appliance is the thousands of independent personal computer retailers in the U.S. The manufacturing infrastructure for this new product category of mobile service robots is essentially the same as the personal computer industry. Several outside contract manufacturers have been identified and qualified their ability to produce up to 1,000 CareBots per month within four to six months.
The Company is market driven. At the time of founding, nearly 14 years ago, the Company did extensive primary market research to determine the demographic profile of the early adopters of the then proposed product line. Subsequent to, and based on that original market research, they have assembled numerous focus groups to evaluate the fit of the CareBot personal robot into the participant's lives and their expected usage. The Company has also frequently employed the Delphi market research methodology by contacting and interviewing senior executives, practitioners, and researchers knowledgeable in the area of elder care. Using this factual basis of internally performed primary and secondary market research, and third party research is the statistical substance for the Company's sales forecasts.
Not surprisingly the scientific statistical analyses applied revealed that elderly over sixty-five living alone in metropolitan areas with broadband Internet available and sufficient household incomes to support the increased costs were identified as those most likely to adopt initially. Due to the high cost of assisted living, nursing homes, etc. the payback for a CareBot is expected to be only six to eight months while keeping elderly care receivers independent, in their own long time homes, and living longer due to the comfort and safety of more frequent attention from their loved ones.
The Company's "mobile robot solutions for safety, security and service(tm)" are appropriate not only for the consumer, but also professional healthcare, commercial security and defense markets. Professional healthcare require cost effective, timely errand running, portable telemedicine, etc. Homeland Security requires cost effective mobile robots to patrol and monitor public venues for weapons and WMD detection. Military users desire the elimination of the "man in the loop" to enable unmanned ground and air vehicles to not require constant human control and/or intervention.
The Company's business model is very much like that of an automobile manufacturer. Due to the final assembly, test, and shipping being done based on geographic and logistic realities; strategic business-to-business relationships can range from private labeling to joint manufacturing and distribution to licensing only.
Several dozen patent opportunities exist for the Company due to the many innovative and cost effective breakthroughs embodied not only in GeckoNav, GeckoChat, and GeckoTrak, but also in additional, secondary systems that include: GeckoOrient™, GeckoMotorController™, the GeckoTactileShroud™, the GeckoImager™, and the GeckoSPIO™.
Main number: 1-866-CAREBOT (227-3268)
International: +1 678-413-9236
Fax: +1 678-413-9247
Source: GeckoSystems Intl. Corp.
Statements regarding financial matters in this press release other than historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Company intends that such statements about the Company's future expectations, including future revenues and earnings, technology efficacy and all other forward-looking statements be subject to the Safe Harbors created thereby. The Company is a development stage firm that continues to be dependent upon outside capital to sustain its existence. Since these statements (future operational results and sales) involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time, the Company's actual results may differ materially from expected results.
SOURCE GeckoSystems International Corporation