Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, doesn’t like to get too future-struck when there are marvels all around him. The RP-VITA platform that iRobot helped create is indeed an astonishing achievement, so he’d prefer to savor that for a moment before speculating on the future of telemedicine robotics.
In a recent interview, Angle noted that in many ways, the future has arrived with RP-VITA. “It’s the first robotic system in telemedicine that offers environmental awareness, self-navigation and autonomy – and that’s a huge leap forward,” he said.
Just a decade ago, creating a system that makes long-distance collaboration “better than being there” seemed out of reach. Now it’s here with RP-VITA, where real-time patient data and sophisticated networking make it possible.
“We’re just beginning to tap the potential of a system that enables the world’s top specialists to consult with physicians in small hospitals anywhere in the world,” said Angle.
Because RP-VITA creates almost limitless possibilities, we couldn’t resist asking Colin a few questions about robots’ future role in healthcare.
In Colin’s view, there’s no reason why robots can’t function like today’s medical assistants, escorting people to waiting rooms and taking vitals. And he predicts that robots’ embedded sensing capabilities will improve dramatically in the years ahead. “Humans have thousands of sensors in their fingers that provide very good qualitative data,” he said. “But a robot with even fifty sensors can provide very useful quantitative data to make diagnoses more accurate.”
But enough with the crystal ball. We don’t want future-gazing to steal the spotlight from today’s achievements. By making robots autonomous, RP-VITA is a major milestone in the history of telemedicine.