Even more recent latest about the "post-iBot" world....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/02/26 07:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2012/02/26/10273063.aspx

When I wrote Latest about the "post-iBot" world...., I left out some information.

Some of it, I left out because I didn't know it. When I don't know something then as a general rule I don't say nearly as much about it.

In fact, there are still some things I do not know. And those things will continue on the same trend of me not talking about them.

But there were a few things I actually did know that I didn't share.

And there are a few things I have learned since then.

There is a safety mode that the iBot goes into any time something bad happens. When this occurs, you can work in Standard Mode and Four Wheel Mode.

But you cannot do Stair Climbing Mode, and you cannot work in two wheel "Balance" Mode.

Now, in addition to this going on anytime something bad happens, there is one other time -- when the device hits its internal "time bomb" date.

All people who do service are under instructions to (every time they perform service) to extend the date to the maximum the unit will allow, which for the software is up to 96 months (8 years) from when the service is performed.

Now when it comes to other work, their options are more limited.

The people doing service can do CG (Center of Gravity) calibrations, which would be an important thing to do if there was a huge change in a person's weight, or for example people like me who have iBots calibrated to assume I have a heavy laptop attached to the back of the chair who suddenly wants to change that calibration.

Now Johnson and Johnson has taken quite a hard-ass approach when it comes to transfer ownership of iBots -- something that really gets in the way of efforts like the Huey 091 Foundation.

Certainly J&J isn't thrilled to be on the end of a "Company doesn't support our country's veterans" story.

But this is kind of Johnson and Johnson's fault for getting rid of the people who did the other calibrations and changes such as disabling functionality that the person couldn't do or failed to prove he could do when tested, or if the speed was forcibly set to be lower.

Because they laid off almost all of the people do the assessments, they would run into FDA problems if anyone who was to receive a "transferred" chair who didn't get assessed and especially who needed any of those other non-CG calibrations done.

I have been told but have been unable to verify that they are quietly using the limited personnel they have left to take care of the few situations they can -- they really do want to avoid the bad press and get out of the business as quietly as they can.

At the same time, DEKA (Dean Kamen's company), is also saying very little right now about their future plans, which I and others assume is due to non-disclosure agreements that would  keep them from helping of interfering until the iBot's ownership is transfered back to DEKA in the end of 2013.

Geeks like me have spent some time doing the things we can to make sure we can stay up and running even without the help of Johnson & Johnson. Though for us the problem is more along the lines of violating the warranty if we modified the chair in an unauthorized way, which is unlikely have very much sway on the likes of us once the warranty officially expires anyway.

Until/unless a new plan is announced for support after DEKA takes ownership of the iBot again.

I will say I'm rather disappointed in the way J&J has handled all this -- there are dozens things they could have done to make the situation easier for the iBot owners. Their whole exit strategy seems more like a carefully orchestrated series of tactical errors. Even now they could take steps to help people that they choose not to do.

When big companies have a chance to do good things, it is disappointing (if not surprising) when they don't.

For me, I look forward to DEKA and Dean Kamen getting back in the game....

ErikF on 27 Feb 2012 4:12 PM:

I sincerely hope that it's not going to be a "post-iBot" world but rather an "iBot 2.0" world! The iBot has obviously been a great help to you, and it's definitely the kind of technology that you would think that people would need as the baby boomer generation ages. Here's to the future of the iBot! [iBot emoji here]

Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Feb 2012 4:27 PM:


We need an iBOT Emoji. :-)

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