Opengear (http://www.opengear.com), a leading provider of critical infrastructure management solutions through advanced console servers, remote management, monitoring, and cellular out-of-band products, today announced that Interactive Motion Technologies has successfully deployed Opengear’s remote management gateways to each of its internationally-located InMotion neurorehabilitation robots. Using Opengear’s solution, Interactive Motion has been able to perform remote maintenance of robots in hospitals all over the world from the company’s headquarters in Boston.
The results of using Opengear’s cellular-connected remote management have been transformative: service calls can now be completed from the Boston office, and minor robot updates no longer require a tech to travel and be on-site, rendering what had been huge cost and time expenditures associated with travel for minor updates unnecessary. Interactive Motion is currently investigating additional opportunities to integrate Opengear’s solution as a part of their product.
Interactive Motion selected the Opengear ACM5004-G-E for maintaining the systems of InMotion robots worldwide via secure cellular out-of-band connections. InMotion robots have been at use in hospitals around the world for over a decade, with some models still running on legacy versions of Ubuntu or Red Hat Linux. These systems are not on the Internet or even local Ethernets, are out of date with security patches, and cannot be connected to hospital networks. Because the connection Opengear uses is not Internet-based but done via cellular out-of-band – and because Opengear’s gateway provides secure tunneling – the security of the older systems in use is protected. Additionally, the value added by a low cost gateway and $20/month cell service means Opengear’s solution easily pays for itself by saving technician time and travel costs.
“It’s exciting to see Opengear technology deployed in a way that not only saves a business time and money, but also gets to play a role in helping rehabilitate stroke patients via the extraordinary InMotion robot,” said Todd Rychecky, VP Sales Americas, Opengear. “On the business side, the trouble and costs of traveling internationally for trivial maintenance issues are exactly the kind of burden our cellular out-of-band gateways with secure tunneling are designed to solve. All Interactive Motion had to do was ship the gateways with instructions to plug them in. Now, the ACM5004-G-E makes it so their technicians can access the robots from home, and they’re doing nine out of every ten service calls with no travel required.”
InMotion robot-assisted therapy helps moderate to severe stroke patients reacquire and improve motor skills in impaired upper limbs. Leveraging the brain’s incredible neuroplasticity, an InMotion robot will guide a patient’s arm through a range of motions, assisting the movements as needed. These motions cause the brain to rewire its neurons, and relearn how to control the body. The robot takes the patient’s own movements as feedback, tapering off its assistance as the patient’s brain learns and regains motor control. In this way, InMotion robots take patients from an utterly passive role to an active role, so that by the end of therapy the robot is adding zero assistance.
In the practice of ensuring that these robots stayed fully functional, maintenance issues would arise. Hard drives would fail, or researchers would ask for new customized features. To maintain these systems, technicians would travel out to the sites. In some cases, this meant a $5,000+ expense and overseas travel to delete a single character in a code string: a simple three-minute job if they had remote access. Now with Opengear, they do.
“We call the Opengear product a miracle!’” said Dr. Daniel M. Drucker, Scientist at Interactive Motion. “It feels like magic. The idea that I have this robot I’ve helped to make, and I expected I’d never be able to connect to again unless I traveled to where it is and typed on the console; suddenly I’m able to take this box, ship it and have them plug it in. And now I’m here in Boston, type a couple commands, and a minute later I’m connected and able to issue commands on this robot. And it’s going over the global cell network.”
For Interactive Motion and the hospitals and patients using their robots, Opengear’s remote management solution improves operational efficiency and reduces mean time to repair. Rapid robot repairs mean patients are not left waiting. Researchers asking for special experiments and features can have those delivered quickly and remotely. Technical staff can better invest their time where it’s most valuable: developing technology to serve patients.
For more details on Interactive Motion’s use of Opengear ACM5004-G-Es in their distributed network, please check out the Interactive Motion Case Study.