Wosler’s SonoBot performing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) ultrasound scan on an artificial leg.
The Canadian company, Wosler, is on a mission to solve a fundamental problem plaguing health care around the world: accessibility and reliability of quality health care for all.
The professional medical workforce is drawn to urban areas, resulting in a disproportionate distribution of care that is unavailable to serve patients in rural and remote areas. People have to travel excessive distances to get the health care they need. Some decide not to travel for critical tests, which leaves them unaware of their current health.
Because it is difficult to recruit and retain staff to work in rural areas, Wosler’s co-founders, Dr. Henry Madubuobi, John Paolo Pana and Marco Gallone, turned to robotic telemedicine.
The co-founders began their research with a vision of a simple, affordable, Cartesian-style robot that would hold the ultrasound transducer and could be manipulated in six degrees of freedom.
After researching and evaluating various robotic arms, they selected Kinova’s Gen3 robot as the best option for their needs.
The tests began with a rented robot. The possibility of renting a robot for a period of time to perform tests has been very useful for this startup. They were able to validate that the tests were conclusive before investing financially.
Kinova offers a Kortex™ application programming interface (API) to access high-level and low-level features and behaviors. Wolser appreciated the unique access to the low-level features in the API, which made it easier for them to integrate and program the robot according to their specific needs. The Wosler team relied heavily on the hardware offered by Kinova’s Field Application Engineering team.
“The FAE team has been essential for us. They have always looked for solutions to help us or put us in touch with the right people to solve our problems. I personally loved the How-To series on YouTube, where Kinova breaks down most of the essential features of the API. This series was very useful and was simple enough for non-expert programmers such as myself” – Marco Gallone, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Wosler Diagnostics.
After only two months of using Gen3, Wosler was able to create an initial proof of concept of a robotic ultrasound with connected input device control. As their team grew, they made changes to the system control, which includes the development of control algorithms and robust wireless telecommunication of data over the Internet.
In late 2022, a robot was installed in Wabasca, Alberta. A first ultrasound scan of the abdomen by a sonographer using the custom haptic motion controller was performed over 3,500 kilometers away in London, Ontario.
On January 20, 2023, a completely autonomous Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) scan with automatic 3D volume reconstruction on a phantom was performed spearheaded with the leadership of Wosler’s CSO, Dr. Leah Groves.
“A particular favorite feature of mine with the Gen3 is the Torque sensors embedded in every joint, allowing us to have a very sensitive force experience for patient safety” – Marco Gallone, Co-Founder and CTO at Wosler Diagnostics.
A long-term Collaboration
In Wosler’s business plan, there is a customized version of their robot system. A long-term collaboration with Kinova is in the works because Kinova has all the necessary tools to help design a robot designed for medical diagnostic purposes.
“Knowing that it is a possibility to work on this project with Kinova is great and, above all, essential in such a business relationship” – Marco Gallone, Co-Founder and CTO at Wosler Diagnostics.
“Kinova is committed to deliver unparalleled support to our customers, startups to multinational corporations. Their success is ours and we engage with each and every one of them as we were part of their team. Wosler Diagnostics isn’t an exception. They have a brilliant team, a clear vision and we are very proud that our product is part of a system that could change the way diagnostics are performed in the future.” – François Boucher, VP Medical at Kinova.