Rockdale Math and Science Magnet High School focuses on the fields of mathematics, sciences and technology. It provides college-level courses to better prepare its students for the ever-demanding and evolving business environment in the 21st century. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that inspires young people to strive for outstanding innovation in the field of science and technology. The organization is also home to its annual Robotics High School National Competition (FRC).
The school's FIRST team, known as the Rockdale Magnet Engineering Team, was mentored by GeckoSystems CEO and President R. Martin Spencer as well as the company's Robotics Engineer Kevin O'Connor. GeckoSystems will provide additional support or added assistance to the team. Mr. Spencer and Mr. O'Connor both have extensive experience in the field of robotics with a total of 8 years experience in the FIRST program and FRC.
"As a company that does extensive development of mobile robot technology, GeckoSystems will be able to introduce the students to the real world applications of some of the principles they may be using in the FRC competition," stated Mr. O'Connor.
As the engineering team prepared for the Robotics Competition, they truly valued the expertise and experience GeckoSystems provided.
"Kevin (O'Connor) has been a terrific asset to the team as a mentor. He's provided terrific support for our programmers, electrical help and insight into what the students need to be doing from someone who has actually competed recently. Just as importantly he's been willing to talk with many of the students about engineering in college and beyond," stated David Bonar, Physics and AP Physics Teacher at Rockdale. "In connection with this, I am pleased to say that we are listing GeckoSystems as one of our sponsors on the robot, our team shirts, and in our pit area."
Added student Mark Meyers: "The GeckoSystems team was also very helpful to us in my school First Robotics Competition. They sponsored us by helping us with coding and ideas for how to make the (robotic) design in general. The most incredible part is that they contacted us asking if they could help. It was our first year at that competition and we wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as we were. They helped with writing code and they were up to date with all of the necessary technology."
Recently the faculty sponsors and some of the team members visited GeckoSystems R&D laboratory for live demos of various GeckoSystems' technologies. (See YouTube video links at the end of this press release.)
The students and faculty were extremely impressed with GeckoSystems' flagship product, the CareBot. The engineering team was in continual awe of its innovative capabilities and important benefits.
"As a teacher, it was awesome to be able to show students real world engineering with cutting edge technology. As you emphasized to the students, engineering problem solving involves working with the real world which can be very different then the often idealized world that is presented in schools," stated Mr. Bonar. "Learning about how GeckoSystems has dealt with both standard problems such as egg-shaped wheels and more specific challenges such as developing a first of its kind navigation system using the Microsoft Kinect as a sensor was an invaluable experience for students who are interested in engineering careers."
Bonar added: "GeckoNav was a particularly interesting aspect of the robot. The fluid motion of the robot in both the wandering mode and the target seeking mode was impressive. GeckoChat was not as immediately impressive but is even more critical to the success of a service robot. The combination of scheduled verbal interaction for reminders, the random jokes and quotes for a more human feeling, and the potential for two way communication via the robot seems to be a great match for the intended role of the robots."
Mr. Meyers added: "GeckoChat was the high point in my opinion. The CareBot robot was able to tell jokes, say famous quotes, and even play games. The quotes and jokes were even set to go off at certain times of the day or every so many minutes. Something that was also notable about the chat was the fact that you could set reminders to go off in however long you needed them, whether it was 15 minutes or a week. This would be especially important to remind people to take medications or things of that sort."
"GeckoNav was thoroughly impressive. The way the software manages to generate pathways that allow it to avoid obstacles while maintaining a smooth travel path is perfect for the robot. In a domestic setting, an erratic travel pattern would not be tolerated very long by most," stated Rockdale Teacher Kenny Baskett. "Furthermore, your use of the Microsoft Kinect is brilliant. It's a testament to the quality of you and your team that you have managed to get this working before anyone else in the world."
GeckoSystems officials believe that sponsorships with schools such as Rockdale that promote the fields of science and technology will bring awareness to the advancements made in robot innovation. From the response of the engineering team, that feeling is mutual.
Said Mr. Meyers: "I still, to this day, cannot wait to see the finished (robotic) project, and even hope that my occupation will one day use technology innovated by GeckoSystems."
The Rockdale Magnet School (formally, the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology) is a Magnet School located in Conyers, Ga., Rockdale County. It is a selective school whose students take on rigorous college-level courses in mathematics, the natural sciences, technology/engineering, and research. It was opened in 2000 to provide a rigorous high school curriculum for the youth in Rockdale County. The school focuses on the fields of mathematics, sciences and technology.
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering.
With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and more than $14 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.
About GeckoSystems International Corporation:
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, to be created for the mass consumer marketplace. The suite of primary inventions includes: GeckoNav, GeckoChat and GeckoTrak.
Third-annual "Mobile Robots in Motion" stakeholder conference April 13-14, 2011 in Conyers, Ga.
The conference will demonstrate GeckoSystems' state-of-the-art mobile robots and its technologies concerning its recently expanded product line, the personal companion robot, the CareBot and the "collision proof" upgrade wheelchair kit, the GWK001.
Journalists are encouraged to contact GeckoSystems regarding the progress of the company and potentially attending the upcoming invitation only "Mobile Robots in Motion" conference. Journalists and other interested parties may submit their request for an invitation to info(at)geckosystems.com or call 678-413-9236. Space is limited, so please inquire soon.
The CareBot has proven to be ideal for the Consumer Familycare market (care for children and the elderly) which has been chronicled in articles from Psychology Today ( http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/adventures-in-old-age/200906/the-robots-have-dawned-meet-the-carebot) and subject-related blogs ( http://cgmasi.com/eyeontechnology/2009/06/personal-robots-to-monitor-elderly-vital-signs.html). In this market, MSRs serve as a cost-effective alternative to nursing assistance or assistance living residency. The estimated savings total near the tens of thousands of dollars.
The CareBot has multiple layers of safety precautions. These safeguards are enabled three ways: mechanical, electronic, and using AI computer software.
- 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.
- 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 GeckoImager 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.
- 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.
Like an automobile, the CareBot is made from steel, aluminum, plastic and electronics, but with up to 20 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.
At the time of founding, nearly 14 years ago, GeckoSystems 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 analysis applied revealed that elderly over 65 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 seven to nine 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 Projected Consumer Market Size In Dollars For Cost Effective, Utilitarian, Multitasking Eldercare Personal Robots:
--------------------------------- Year Market Size --------------------------------- 2012 $74 billion --------------------------------- 2013 $77 billion --------------------------------- 2014 $80 billion --------------------------------- 2015 $83.3 billion --------------------------------- 2016 $86.6 billion ---------------------------------
Estimated Market Penetrations and Project Sales:
-------------------------------------------- Year Percentage Projected Sales -------------------------------------------- 2012 0.06% $22 million -------------------------------------------- 2013 0.03% $44 million -------------------------------------------- 2014 0.22% $176 million -------------------------------------------- 2015 0.53% $440.2 million -------------------------------------------- 2016 0.81% $704.3 million --------------------------------------------
Source: U.S. Census Bureau; GeckoSystems
The Company expects these sales despite -- and perhaps because of -- the present recession due to pent up demand for significant cost reduction in eldercare expenses. The foregoing forecasts do not include sales in non-metropolitan areas; elderly couples over 65 (only elderly living alone are in these forecasts); those chronically ill -- regardless of age -- or elderly living with their adult children.
The Company's "mobile robot solutions for safety, security and service" 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.
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.
It is a new type of labor saving, time management automatic home appliance. For example, the care giver 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 anywhere 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
CareBot demo videos from Rockdale Magnet FIRST Robotics Team's visit
Kinect Enabled Personal Robot video:
In this video one will observe static and dynamic obstacle avoidance into and back out of a cluttered and narrow "gauntlet alley." One may determine that the movements are smoother than what most people could do using a joystick, human controlled mobile platform. One will witness three low levels of obstacle avoidance: reactive, proactive, and contemplative. No prior mapping or path planning was performed before or during the demonstration run. GeckoNav, the AI savant doing the guiding, controls all mobile activities during this demo. You will witness subsumptive AI behaviors occurring as obstacle avoidance subsumes way point seek and vice versa with an emergent behavior expressed as errand running down a cluttered hallway and back without any human intervention.
Elder Care Robot Trial Video 2, Stationary View
One CareBot One Family
Mobile Robot Navigates Dining Room & Kitchen
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.
Telephone: Main number: 1-866-CAREBOT (227-3268) International: +1 678-413-9236 Fax: +1 678-413-9247