Investors: Press Release
GeckoSystems' Applauds Scientific American's Article, "Will Robots Help the Elderly Live at Home Longer?"
CONYERS, Ga., June 23, 2010 -- GeckoSystems Intl. Corp. (PINKSHEETS: GCKO) -- announced today that they are very pleased with the recent press coverage they have received from ScientificAmerican.com. GeckoSystems is a dynamic leader in the emerging Mobile Service Robot (MSR) industry revolutionizing their development and usage with their "Mobile Robot Solutions for Safety, Security, and Service".
"All of us here at GeckoSystems are excited about Brian T. Horowitz's article entitled: 'Cyber Care: Will Robots Help the Elderly Live at Home Longer?' Horowitz is the freelance writer that researched and prepared this online article. We are humbled by our inclusion in an article discussing the desirable goal of allowing our elderly family members to stay independent in their own homes longer, along with other industry giants such as Microsoft Corp. and academia spin-offs such as Robosoft. And we are very pleased and appreciative to receive this kind of recognition for our many years of hard work," stated Martin Spencer, President/CEO, GeckoSystems.
Since late last year GeckoSystems has been involved in the world's first in home elder care robot trials to learn more about the realities of providing families with more cost effective solutions to enable them to take better care of their elderly parents for less worry, money and time.
Below are excerpts from previous press releases discussing evaluation trial revealing actual user benefits, technologies used, and unedited videos demonstrating the reality and proximity to market of GeckoSystems' first product, a personal assistant mobile robot, the CareBot.
First, excerpts about the benefits gleaned from the in home trials:
On Nov. 16, 2009, "In Home Elder Care Robot Trials Begin" was distributed.
"Practical, cost effective mobile robot solutions are our primary goal. We are very pleased to begin our first in home trials of this new assistive care home appliance, a customizable personal assistant robot. Now we begin proving our long held belief that personal companion mobile robots, like the CareBot, can help tens of thousands of families take better care of their loved ones while saving significant monies.
"In the near future, as we progress with our in home personal companion robot evaluation trials, we will be reporting on the social interaction responses of the care receiver --and the care giver-- to this new type of in home medical monitoring system," observed Spencer.
Last year, Dr. Neta Ezer of Georgia Tech released a white paper entitled: "More Than a Servant: Self-Reported Willingness of Younger and Older Adults to Having a Robot Perform Interactive and Critical Tasks in the Home" published in the "Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 53rd Annual Meeting." Amongst several observations, they concluded that the elderly are surprisingly receptive to robotic assistive care. "We applaud Dr. Ezer's insightful work even though it only addresses potential benefits to the care receiver, and not the care giver(s). In many instances the family of the care receiver may benefit as much, or more, than the care receiver according to our market research. We are excited about going into real world, in home evaluation trials to learn first hand what the elderly like, and/or dislike about a robotic companion sharing the same living space with them," concluded Spencer.
On Nov. 18, 2009, "Elder Care Robot Trials Begun" was distributed.
…GeckoSystems' CEO commented, "We are very pleased to begin our first in home trials of this new assistive care home appliance, a customizable personal companion robot with telepresence capabilities. The first step, integrating into the home environment, is customizing the voice reproduction (synthesis) in our verbal interaction software, GeckoChat, such that the care receiver can readily understand timely (using GeckoScheduler) verbal reminders for their medications, upcoming TV shows, family visits, etc. The care receiver here is a ninety-three year old widow with short-term memory loss that is very similar to the symptoms of Alzheimer's victims, but without the continued degradation."
On November 23, 2009, "GeckoSystems' Elder Care Robot Trials, Week One" was distributed.
"During this first week we have learned some important, but seemingly simple insights, such as the appropriate voice synthesis characteristics needed by the elderly with hearing loss, for example. This has been an important insight as we are integrating our CareBot into the home environment. We have been using the end user interface to customize the voice reproduction (synthesis) in our verbal interaction software, GeckoChat, such that the care receiver can readily understand timely (using GeckoScheduler) verbal reminders for their medications, upcoming TV shows, family visits, etc.," …commented Spencer.
On November 25, 2009, "Grandma Reacts to GeckoSystems' Elder Care Robot Trials" was distributed.
…one of the caregivers in the evaluation trials commented, "My widower mother had detached retina surgery some years ago and as an unfortunate side effect her short-term memory was reduced to only two to three minutes. So while she has many of the Alzheimer victim issues, her short-term memory has not continued to degrade as is common with most Alzheimer sufferers. However, due to this type of memory loss she has lived with my husband and me for over eight years because of her consequent frequent disorientation.
"The family is really enjoying customizing the CareBot's persona for Mama. Mama is well known within the family for her daily ritual of at least one bowl of ice cream. So we thought to tease Mama a bit when we had the CareBot ask her, 'Would you like a bowl of ice cream?' When Mama heard the robot speak, she broke into a big smile and said an emphatic, 'Yes!' While her joyful response was not unexpected had a live person asked her, her reaction to the CareBot's inquiry, was very heart warming. I am looking forward to further exploration of family to robot to care receiver social interaction in the coming weeks and months of these in home assistive care robot trials," remarked the baby boomer caregiver.
"We have worked for some years to develop the ability for our CareBot MSR's to intelligently listen and respond to spoken commands of the caregiver and/or care receiver as we have learned in our extensive market research (focus group) work. GeckoChat can be readily customized for words, phrases and sentences to be recognized by the care receiver and appropriate, desirable responses by the family," observed Spencer.
“We developed the CareBot primarily for family care. Hence a simple and intuitive user interface is extremely important. This pushed us into developing verbal interaction functionality using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies several years ago,” stated Mark Peele, Vice President, R&D, GeckoSystems.
"GeckoChat continues the suite of our fundamental GeckoSavants with the disparate, functional benefits needed to cost effectively provide utility to families for remote care taking of their members and other loved ones by making them more personal and uniquely adapted and addressed to the particular person to be assisted. Not only does this capability enable new forms of social interaction and community for families --even when dispersed geographically--," remarked Spencer.
On December 2, 2009, "Grandma Interacts During GeckoSystems' Elder Care Robot Trials" was distributed.
The baby boomer caregiver remarked, "So while she has many of the Alzheimer victim issues, her short-term memory has not continued to degrade as is common. Nonetheless, because of her short-term memory loss, she asks the same question(s) twenty, thirty times a day. Answering the same question over and over is a real stressor. Since she worries most about someone coming over unexpectedly and her not being prepared, she asks, 'Is anyone coming over today?' over and over and over…. So we have programmed GeckoChat to respond with 'No visitors today' in such a manner that she understood what was being said. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, she responded, with glee, 'why can't I have some visitors?' to the CareBot's verbal reminder. I am pleased with the performance of the CareBot and my mother's reaction to it. She is not scared by the robot, in other words. In fact, she tends to be amused."
A week later, on December 9, 2009, "Robot Safety Applauded During GeckoSystems' Elder Care Robot Trials" was distributed.
One of the caregivers in the trials commented, "I have been pleased and a little surprised at my mother’s reaction to her new personal companion robot, the CareBot. She likes it! She is not at all intimidated when it talks to her and/or moves about! It is apparent to me that safety was very important to the CareBot's inventors. There are no moving or extending parts that might be hazardous. And it avoids obstacles reliably, too."
GeckoSystems has focused on mobile robot safety for over ten years. Their first product, a family care robot, has multiple layers of safety precautions. These safeguards are enabled three ways: mechanical, electronic, and using 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, which detects where on its shroud it has been bumped by people or animals. The CompoundedSensorArray detects virtually everything in the front and to the sides of this fully autonomous mobile robot up to thirty inches. Obstacles more distant are detected by twin ultrasonic rangefinders. Third, the advanced AI navigation software, GeckoNav, 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.
Second, excerpts about the technologies used in the elder care robot trials:
On January 21, 2010, "GeckoSystems Employs Sensor Fusion in Elder Care Robot Trials" was distributed.
"We use multiple layers of sensors and sensor systems to achieve what some describe as 'actionable situational awareness.' For example our CareBots are capable of powering down unnecessary systems to lengthen battery life while grandma sleeps, and then power back up automatically should she, for example get out of her bed in the middle of the night. The CareBot 'watches over' the care receiver using a scientifically developed fusion of sonar, active infrared, passive infrared, etc. to enable the CareBot to be aware of the care receiver's movements such that GeckoTrak can guide GeckoNav to stay proximate to grandma such that GeckoChat can have verbal interaction with her. The GeckoSuper then determines whether and/or when to automatically notify the caregiver that grandma is 'up and about at 2:30A' and may need the care giver to look in personally, either over the video camera, or with a physical visit," stated Martin Spencer, President/CEO of GeckoSystems.
"GeckoSystems has been a top pioneer in the field of low cost sensor fusion technology. We were extremely pleased to learn last year from Frost & Sullivan's report that our internally developed sensor fusion technologies have application in many significant markets other than the mobile service robot marketplace. These important insights will allow us to license our proprietary sensor fusion technologies to many firms outside of the emerging mobile robotics industry and increase ROI for our investors."
On February 18, 2010, "GeckoSystems Develops New GeckoScheduler for Elder Care Robot Trials" was distributed.
Spencer observed, "We are learning that valued family behaviors can be readily expressed to the care receiver using a CareBot due to the robustness of its functionality. Here, primarily GeckoChat and GeckoScheduler are utilized. Our caregivers have been telling us that the earlier version of GeckoScheduler was cumbersome and required repeated entries for the same reoccurring reminders. Hence our recent rewrite of this important GeckoSavant."
"This new version was developed in response to caregivers in our present elder care robot trials. I am pleased to have GeckoScheduler separated from GeckoChat and accessible to every GeckoSavant. Now it is a stand alone AI engine and usable for more than just time and date scheduling of verbal reminders due to its increased flexibility," observed Mark Peele, Vice President, R&D, GeckoSystems.
On March 16, 2010, "GeckoSystems Improves Elder Care Robot Trials" was distributed.
Briefly described…their recently improved GeckoChat, their verbal interaction software, and GeckoScheduler, their "event timing" software for better understanding by the care receiver and easier usage for the caregiver.
Further in that press release, "The new improvements made with GeckoChat have been very helpful. My mother is now able to understand the CareBot much better since there is more clarity with each word spoken to her. She is now responding more appropriately to everything said to her by the robot. In the past sometimes she could not understand what was being said or she misunderstood completely what was said.
"The GeckoScheduler has made it much easier for me to program timed reminders for the CareBot to say to my mother. This new computer interface has streamlined the way I am able to schedule reminders. It is now much easier to program the CareBot to tell my mother important things for her, throughout the day and week. With this upgraded computer interface I will now start putting some of her favorite Bible verses and family anecdotes in for the CareBot to recite to her," commented the baby boomer caregiver.
On May 14, 2010, "GeckoSystems Releases World's First Elder Care Robot Trial Videos" was distributed.
Third, excerpts about videos from the in home elder care robot trials:
"My mother has gotten used to having the CareBot around her these last few months. She recently turned 94 so her privacy continues to be very important to her and me. I believe these videos of the CareBot following her from her bedroom to her breakfast table show how this benefit allows me to continue working at my PC in the other end of our home while she goes to breakfast," reflected the primary caregiver.
"This is an excellent example of our advanced GeckoSavant software architecture. In these videos, you can see from two perspectives, one onboard the CareBot and another simultaneously off board. The GeckoSuper orchestrates GeckoNav and GeckoTrak to invoke the emergent beneficial behavior of following an elderly person around their home as they go about their daily routines," observed Mark Peele, Vice President, R&D, GeckoSystems.
The GeckoSuper is the GeckoSavant responsible for system-wide orchestrated "common sense." For example, given two or more inputs, GeckoSuper can determine the order in which they need to be addressed. GeckoNav is the AI software guidance system for the CareBot that provides automatic self-navigation without human intervention. GeckoTrak is the AI software system using sensor fusion that delivers a goal to GeckoNav by way of the GeckoSuper to seek.
"We are very pleased to make these additional, contemporary and substantive elder care robot trial videos available on our website and YouTube.com. We show the same sequence from two different perspectives to carefully document the veracity of these groundbreaking, world's first elder care robot trials.
These new videos may be viewed at:
Elder Care Trial Video 2, Stationary View
Elder Care Trial Video 2, CareBot™ View
"This is an excellent example of our advanced GeckoSavant software architecture's robustness and ease of extensibility. In these new videos, you can see from two perspectives: one onboard the CareBot and another simultaneously off board. These demonstrable improvements were made in the last few weeks. The GeckoSuper orchestrates GeckoNav and GeckoTrak to invoke the emergent beneficial behavior of following an elderly person around their home as they go about their daily routines," observed Mark Peele, Vice President, R&D, GeckoSystems.
Legacy videos may be viewed at:
Most popular on YouTube.com:
One CareBot One Family
Over 10 CareBot Demo Videos at:
Over 100 CareBot Public Demo Videos at:
The ScientificAmerican.com article entitled: 'Cyber Care: Will Robots Help the Elderly Live at Home Longer?' can be found at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=robot-elder-care.
"We continue to work very hard to achieve the ROI our 1300+ GCKO stockholders deserve," reiterated Spencer.
Other online articles:
"Tireless Caregiver For The Homebound: A Robot" - Dec 26, 2009
By Michael D. Shaw
"Personal Robots to Monitor Elderly Vital Signs" - June 16, 2009
By C. G. Masi
"The Robots Have Dawned: Meet The CareBot" - June 28, 2009
By Ira Rosofsky, PhD
About the CareBot:
Like an automobile, mobile robots are made from steel, aluminum, plastic, and electronics, but with ten to twenty times the amount of software running. The CareBot has an aluminum frame, plastic shroud, two independently driven wheels, multiple sensor systems, microprocessors and several onboard computers connected in 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. GeckoNav, GeckoChat and GeckoTrak are primary 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 an Internet appliance that is accessible for remote video/audio monitoring and telepresence.
GeckoSystems employs proprietary sensor fusion technologies not only in its flagship automatic self-navigation software, GeckoNav, but also in GeckoTrak, the GeckoSPIO, and GeckoOrient. GeckoTrak uses advanced sensor fusion to merge machine vision, passive infrared, and sonar to identify and/or locate the person of interest such that GeckoTrak can inform GeckoNav automatically as to the whereabouts of the designated person for continuous proximate monitoring. The GeckoSPIO, a sensor/power input/output mobile robot controller board, enables faster, more graceful self-navigation through loose crowds of moving people as in airport, bus, and train terminals, shopping centers and other public areas. GeckoOrient automatically and intelligently merges sensor data from odometry (dead reckoning), a solid-state compass and accelerometer based gyroscopes (IMU's) for enhanced orientation accuracy while errand running, patrolling, or following a designated person.
Some believe that in home usage of personal assistant robots can be approved and paid for through options such as the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, which broadens the definition, use, and funding of technology at home. Other sources include long-term care insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, Medicaid waivers, and (potentially) stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, under the provisions for health information technology and electronic medical records for acute care.