At Tapster Robotics, we work alongside robots every day and help our customers to do the same. While many of our customers use their robots in secure labs with top-secret use cases, we recently had an in-depth conversation with Randy Horton, VP of Solutions and Partnerships at Orthogonal. We discussed how they are using Tapster robots for testing smartphone apps that work in tandem with medical devices, what they envision becoming of the medical device testing industry, and their experience using our robots in their testing processes.
Tapster: Tell me a little bit about how Orthogonal got started in the medical device testing world, and what your goals are for the future…
RH: Most of the fantastic consulting firms in this space started as partners with manufacturers in the space to design, engineer, and physically manufacture these devices. These companies took over creating the software to go along with them, but they don’t have a foundation in modern-day tech.
We, on the other hand, have our roots in the digital world. We were spun out of a company that had spent almost fifteen years building web software on the cutting edge in many industries before we stumbled into connected medical devices and noticed the enormous potential but recognized the techniques already in play won’t get them there fast enough. We have spent almost ten humbling years learning the ins and outs of this industry while improving the processes they rely on. Our methods are data-driven and agile, that’s core to our DNA. Using modern engineering methods we stay lean, allowing us to let tech and data disrupt the industry.
Our differentiator is simple: We are on a mission to fuse modern day engineering and FDA compliance regulations to accelerate the development of better medical devices.
We get out of bed every morning to do work that helps our clients get to market first with the safest and smartest connected medical device technology.
Tapster: What are you currently working on with the Tapster 3?
RH: We’re currently working to incorporate automation into the testing processes for these devices. FDA compliance regulations require completing a comprehensive risk analysis to prove the reliability of your technology. Every time updates are made or features are added, this process has to be repeated. Due to these long and tedious review processes, it’s hard and painstaking work to stay up to date as non-medical tech companies push out updates to their devices.
We’re exploring what it could look like to automate testing while maintaining extensive processes, dependable consistency, and finely tuned rigor.
We started small with the Tapster 3, to help us get familiar with its functionality but the more we work with it, the easier it becomes to envision this kind of automation becoming standardized in the device testing space. This is an early example of the work we did to get acquainted with our Tapster robot, affectionately named, Fred “Tappy” Astaire.
Our “why” is to find reliable and repeatable ways to automate these processes for continuous improvement. While we chip away at this boulder, our goal is to learn out loud so we can pave a path for progress to be made across the industry as a whole.
Tapster: Why did the team at Orthogonal choose Tapster as a robot provider?
RH: Based on our initial research, it was not about Tapster vs. a competing robotics firm. Tapster was the only game in town. We knew we would make a ton of mistakes in this undertaking, but we wanted to make new and interesting mistakes, not old and proven ones. It was important to us to find someone willing to get creative, messy, strategic, and tactical to help us on the journey, and we found that in the Tapster team.
We were excited to see them paving their own path, and their work continues to inspire us while we attempt to maximize this technology and optimize it to solve health care problems.
Tapster: What makes working with Tapster and our robots unique?
RH: We are sort of a lab for hire, so what has been special and unique to us is the partnership we’ve forged with Tapster. We have extremely dedicated partners on the Tapster team. This partnership has been the exact moral boost we’ve needed as we’re undertaking this large, and at times what feels like an insurmountable mission. What’s unique about our work is our ability and access to the Tapster team. When we’re struggling we can hop on a team call and brainstorm solutions with Jason and Meg.
Our work together has gone so smoothly and I’d attribute it to the way Tapster embraces the open-source mindset. Together we’re searching for out-of-the-box answers to make radical, sustainable change in the medical device world. From day one the Tapster team has shown up and shown out, quite literally when they hand-delivered our robot to us!
Tapster: What is the most exciting project Orthogonal has used a Tapster robot on, and what is the team most excited about next?
RH: The work we are doing is at the forefront of innovation, nevertheless, that does not make it easy. We believe that if it were easy, we would not be working on it. We partner with the Tapster team to think the big thoughts, crack the hard nuts, and find safe and effective ways to revolutionize this field. That said, the progress we’re making is slow but powerful.
When we think about automation in medical device testing, the goal is to create seamless and efficient processes to test new updates quickly without interrupting the patient experience. We have access to groundbreaking science and now it’s our job to turn it into workable engineering.
The work we have done with the Tapster 3 is smaller scale to ensure the processes we’re building are safe and reliable. (Hello, FDA compliance!) Here’s one of our early projects where we used the Tapster 3 to control an LED light bulb through a Bluetooth connection via a phone app.
Tapster 3 plays with a smart bulb
Tapster is delighted to be a partner with Orthogonal in the medical device testing field and looks forward to its continued growth and the better health these efforts can bring to us all. During our interview with Randy, we realized there was far too much interesting information about the work they do to put into one post, so, if you’re interested in learning more about the specifics Orthogonal is working on in the medical device world, click here.
If you’re interested in staying in touch and up to date with the Tapster team on these exciting things, we recommend joining our newsletter!