AT&T, Hangar develop PoC for connected device for prosthetic limbs
AT&T said the device syncs to the cloud via AT&T’s network
AT&T and Hanger have developed a proof of concept for what they claim is the industry’s first standalone, network-connected device for prosthetic limbs.
The prototype, designed to attach to below-the-knee prostheses, syncs directly to the cloud via AT&T’s network without relying on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a separate mobile device, AT&T said.
This connectivity allows Hanger Clinic, the patient care subsidiary of Hanger, to receive data on patients’ prosthetic usage beyond the clinical setting. Equipped with these insights, Hanger Clinic clinicians can contact patients to address potential issues impacting prosthesis usage, such as fit and comfort.
AT&T noted if the prosthesis could “talk’” directly to the patients’ caregivers, they would be able to provide patients with better, targeted assistance. The resulting prototype is designed to collect data on prosthetic usage and mobility in near-real time. The device is connected via AT&T’s LTE-M cellular network and has an accompanying interactive mobile app.
“Becoming an amputee can be an emotional, traumatic experience,” said Aaron Flores, Hanger Clinic Vice President. “Transitioning from living with a fully functioning leg to a prosthesis requires re-learning how to walk entirely. Unfortunately, not everyone knows when or how to talk to us about potential challenges. This device will give us a window into patients’ daily experiences and equip us with a level of connectivity we’ve never had before, and in turn, provide even better patient care.”
AT&T combined an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and an LTE-M modem into a compact device, which resulted in multiple test versions of the prototype.
The telco also prototyped an iOS app equipped with patient and clinician portals. The app will allow patients to view their day-to-day progress, such as number of steps taken, AT&T said. It includes a video-calling feature so patients can talk with Hanger Clinic providers about potential issues with their device. With this app, clinicians can view their patients’ activity levels and contact those whose user data shows low activity or irregularities.
“Because this device is intended to become a physical part of Hanger’s patients, the technology driving it needed to be intuitive and seamless while providing benefits to both the patient and the caregiver,” said Vishy Gopalakrishnan, vice president of AT&T Ecosystem & Innovation. “The AT&T Foundry is uniquely suited to help customers like Hanger quickly solve these types of challenges. Through close customer collaboration, a proven ability to rapidly prototype the test solutions, and our advanced knowledge of connectivity, we’re able to move these revolutionary concepts to market faster than once possible.”
Hanger is currently trialling five of these devices with existing patients. In the coming months, Hanger and AT&T will continue to take the best components of this proof of concept to create a fully functional product for the next phase of this project, the companies said.