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GeckoSystems Actively Negotiating Joint Venture with Chinese Wheelchair Manufacturer for International Marketing of Robotic Wheelchair Safety Technology

CONYERS, Ga., Nov. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- GeckoSystems International Corp. (PINKSHEETS: GOSY) announced today that the Company is in ongoing negotiations with a Chinese wheelchair manufacturer that are expected to result in a joint venture for international marketing and manufacture of their recently developed, cutting edge, "collision proof" wheelchair technology.

GeckoSystems is a dynamic leader in the emerging mobile robotics industry revolutionizing their development and usage with "Mobile Robot Solutions for Safety, Security and Service™"

"While we cannot presently disclose the name of the possible Chinese partner at this time as it is restricted by NDA, discussions have been moving ahead in a very amicable and positive atmosphere so far. Mr. Spencer has been supporting this project strongly and he considers this possible Chinese JV as GeckoSystems' strategic advance into the wheelchair production center of the world," stated Mr. Hajime Yasumatsu, Chairman, Yasu, Inc.

"Our Asian Business Development Consultant, Mr. Yasumatsu and his business associates in Beijing, China and Tokyo, Japan are having continuing discussions with a Chinese wheelchair manufacturer concerning a joint venture in China. We will continue to update our stockholders on the progress of these talks in a timely manner," stated Martin Spencer, CEO, GeckoSystems.

According to 2010 United States Census figures there are 3.3 million wheelchair users age 15 or over. Power assisted wheelchairs are a wonderful aid to the disabled, but severe spasticity or tremor (associated with brain or spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's disease) and visual or cognitive limitations make it difficult, if not impossible, for many wheelchair users to enjoy the freedom of movement provided by a power wheelchair.

A live demonstration of GeckoSystems' completed prototype "collision proof" chair is available at . The wheelchair is seen navigating smoothly in a mall and in a grocery store. It avoids both moving and stationary obstacles without sudden movements (such as those caused by tremor when using a joystick) that could cause pain or injury to the occupant of the chair. GeckoSystems hopes that wheelchair users around the world will soon have access to this new technology that enhances both the safety and the mobility of the user.

It is expected that the first product from the Chinese Joint Venture will be an upgraded design more appropriate for AI software control developed according to GeckoSystems' design criteria.

GeckoSystems proprietary software, such as the GeckoImager™, has the ability to fuse multiple stationary sensors to enable a level of autonomy that exceeds what roboticists commonly refer to as  "fully autonomous" navigation. GeckoImager uses sensor fusion, which incorporates structured light machine vision. The abstracted sensor data provides the automatic, self-navigation artificial intelligence (AI) software, GeckoNav™, with sufficient and timely data to attain actionable situation awareness and provide a very safe, loose crowd level of autonomy that is completely "collision proof."

The anticipated Chinese joint venture will give GeckoSystems a competitive advantage when it enters into commercial markets such as healthcare, security, and government applications. The mechanical components of a wheelchair are very similar in size and capacity to what is needed for these MSR (Mobile Service Robot) applications. Additionally, GeckoSystems management believes that when these discussions are finished the company will have the resources to complete development of their flagship product, the CareBot eldercare robot.

Electronics continually become lighter and less expensive due to technological advances. Software has no weight and once developed it can be reproduced inexpensively. The mechanical system, which is the frame and drive motors, must be adequately engineered to carry the heavy batteries needed to give the robots a functional run time between charging. The metal and mechanics required to do this represent a major part of the cost of the completed MSR. Economic mass production of this critical system will allow GeckoSystems to price their commercial MSR line very competitively while enjoying enhanced gross margins.

Mr. Spencer stated: "Of course due to the delicacy and sensitivity of these discussions, it would be inappropriate to reveal more at this time. However, given the past performance of Mr. Yasumatsu on behalf of GeckoSystems, I continue to be optimistic and expect that this will be one more successful negotiation by Yasu, Inc. representing GeckoSystems. This anticipated step makes the transition of the company from the Developmental Stage to the Emerging Growth stage while continuing the company on the path to providing our stockholders with a satisfying return on investment."

The Concern of China for its People

On 28 April 2011, China's state statistics bureau first released its report on the country's 2010 census. The findings of the census were that the population of mainland China had reached 1.34 billion in 2010. From 2000 to 2010 the population from infancy to 14 years of age declined from 22.9% to 16.6%, while the number of people 65 years and older grew from 7% to 8.9%. China's population is aging rapidly.

China is also becoming less rural. The 2010 report shows that 49.7% of the population is now living in urban areas, a 13% increase over the 2000 figures. The Chinese people are also becoming more mobile. About 260 million Chinese live somewhere other than the place where they are formally registered and the majority of these people have relocated from a rural area to an urban one. In short, China is undergoing the same sort of demographic change that the United States experienced in the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Government is putting vast resources into improvement of healthcare for the Chinese people. In a recent PR, GE described Beijing as "a new global hub of healthcare innovation." In May 2009, IBM opened a Healthcare Industry Solutions Lab in China to use IT to tackle the health care challenges in that country. Also in 2009, China announced a plan to "deepen health care system reforms" and its intention to provide universal health care by 2020.

GeckoSystems is pleased that their "collision proof" wheelchair technology will be used to assist in this worthwhile effort. The Chinese government is no doubt anticipating the needs of their elderly and disabled for quality wheelchairs. Worldwide, the average usage for wheelchairs is one percent (1%) of the general population. In China that would be equal to 13,400,000 people.

Worldwide, wheelchair sales per year average 0.0515% of the population. In the Pacific Rim, excluding Japan, that number is only is 0.0138%. In order to meet its stated healthcare goal for 2020, the Chinese government has to manufacture and distribute an estimated 5,270,000 wheelchairs over the next ten years. This will bring them in line with the world average. If only twenty percent (20%) are powered and "collision proofed," that is over 100,000 electric wheelchairs per year, or over 8,000 per month. At an average cost of at least $1,500 each, that represents annual sales of $150,000,000 per year in mainland China alone.

"Our prospective Chinese joint venture partner has already requested mechanical design criteria from our experienced robotics engineers. We are very pleased by their sincerity and level of interest and look forward to updating our over 1300 stockholders as we progress in these negotiations," concluded Spencer.

About Yasu, Inc.:

Yasu is a U.S. corporation domiciled in Missouri that provides professional services to international businesses. These services include business development support, networking events, market intelligence, access to bilingual Japanese businesses, and English to Japanese translation of sales and technical information.

About GeckoSystems:

GeckoSystems been developing innovative robotic technology for over fourteen years. It is CEO Martin Spencer's dream to make people's lives better through robotic technology.

GeckoSystems, Star Wars™ Technology

Although the company's primary focus has been an elder care robot, the CareBot AI (artificial intelligence) software technology developed for this project is being marketed internationally. The company believes many devices in use today can be improved through the use of its AI navigation software system. The company expects their "collision proof" wheelchair and an upgrade for existing wheelchairs will be the first product of this sort to be marketed.

The company has successfully completed an Alpha trial of its CareBot personal assistance robot for the elderly. It was tested in a home care setting and received enthusiastic support from both caregivers and care receivers. The company believes that the CareBot will increase the safety and well being of its elderly charges while decreasing stress on the caregiver and the family.

Gecko Systems is preparing for Beta testing of the CareBot prior to full-scale production and marketing. CareBot has recently incorporated Microsoft Kinect motion sensors that will result in a significant cost reduction.

Kinect Enabled Personal Robot video:

Above, the CareBot demonstrates static and dynamic obstacle avoidance as it backs in and out of a narrow and cluttered alley. There is no joystick control or programmed path; movements are smoother that those achieved using a joystick control. AI creates three low levels of obstacle avoidance: reactive, proactive, and contemplative. Subsumptive AI behavior enables the CareBot to reach its target destination after engaging in obstacle avoidance.

One CareBot™, One Family

About the CareBot:

GeckoSystems has focused on mobile robot safety for over fourteen years. Their first product, a family care personal robot, has multiple layers of safety precautions. These safeguards are enabled three ways: mechanical, electronic, and using AI computer software.

  • First, the robot is very stable and difficult to tip over since nearly seventy percent of its weight is less than eight inches above the floor and sits low between large, ten-inch diameter wheels. The wheels are wide and soft enough such that if the robot did go over a child's arm, for example, it would not break the skin or any bones.
  • Second, multiple layers of sensors are fused to provide a safety umbrella to enable actionable situational awareness. Going outward from the center of the CareBot is the GeckoTactileShroud(tm), which detects where on its shroud it has been bumped by people or animals. The GeckoImager(tm) detects virtually everything in the front and to the sides of this fully autonomous mobile robot up to sixty inches. Obstacles more distant are detected by twin ultrasonic rangefinders.
  • Third, the advanced AI navigation software, GeckoNav(tm), takes in the hundreds of sensor readings per second and using its high level situational awareness, consistently avoids unforeseen static and/or dynamic obstacles for safe movements.

Like an automobile, the CareBot is made from steel, aluminum, plastic, and electronics, but with ten to twenty times the amount of software running. It has an aluminum frame, plastic shroud, two independently driven wheels, multiple sensor systems, microprocessors and several onboard computers connected by a local area network (LAN). The microprocessors directly interact with the sensor systems and transmit data to the onboard computers. The onboard computers each run independent, highly specialized cooperative/subsumptive artificial intelligence (AI) software programs, GeckoSavants, which interact to complete tasks in a timely, intelligent and common sense manner. GeckoSuper, GeckoNav, GeckoChat, GeckoScheduler and GeckoTrak are primary, high level GeckoSavants. GeckoNav is responsible for maneuvering, avoiding dynamic and/or static obstacles, seeking waypoints and patrolling. GeckoChat is responsible for interaction with the care-receiver such as answering questions, assisting with daily routines and reminders, and responding to other verbal commands. GeckoTrak, which is mostly transparent to the user, enables the CareBot to maintain proximity to the care-receiver using sensor fusion. The CareBot is a new type of Internet appliance, a personal assistant life support robot, which is accessible for remote video/audio monitoring and telepresence.

More about the Company:

Since 1997, GeckoSystems has developed a comprehensive, coherent, and sufficient suite of hardware and software inventions to enable a new type of home appliance (a personal companion robot) the CareBot(tm), to be created for the mass consumer marketplace. The suite of primary inventions includes: GeckoNav(tm), GeckoChat(tm) and GeckoTrak(tm).

The primary market for this product is the family for use in eldercare, care for the chronically ill, and childcare. The primary distribution channel for this new home appliance is the thousands of independent personal computer retailers in the U.S. The manufacturing infrastructure for this new product category of mobile service robots is essentially the same as the personal computer industry. Several outside contract manufacturers have been identified and qualified their ability to produce up to 1,000 CareBots per month within four to six months.

The Company is market driven. At the time of founding, nearly 14 years ago, the Company did extensive primary market research to determine the demographic profile of the early adopters of the then proposed product line. Subsequent to, and based on that original market research, they have assembled numerous focus groups to evaluate the fit of the CareBot personal robot into the participant's lives and their expected usage. The Company has also frequently employed the Delphi market research methodology by contacting and interviewing senior executives, practitioners, and researchers knowledgeable in the area of elder care. Using this factual basis of internally performed primary and secondary market research, and third party research is the statistical substance for the Company's sales forecasts.

Not surprisingly the scientific statistical analyses applied revealed that elderly over sixty-five living alone in metropolitan areas with broadband Internet available and sufficient household incomes to support the increased costs were identified as those most likely to adopt initially. Due to the high cost of assisted living, nursing homes, etc. the payback for a CareBot is expected to be only six to eight months while keeping elderly care receivers independent, in their own long time homes, and living longer due to the comfort and safety of more frequent attention from their loved ones.

The Company's "mobile robot solutions for safety, security and service(tm)" are appropriate not only for the consumer, but also professional healthcare, commercial security and defense markets. Professional healthcare require cost effective, timely errand running, portable telemedicine, etc. Homeland Security requires cost effective mobile robots to patrol and monitor public venues for weapons and WMD detection. Military users desire the elimination of the "man in the loop" to enable unmanned ground and air vehicles to not require constant human control and/or intervention.

The Company's business model is very much like that of an automobile manufacturer. Due to the final assembly, test, and shipping being done based on geographic and logistic realities; strategic business-to-business relationships can range from private labeling to joint manufacturing and distribution to licensing only.

Several dozen patent opportunities exist for the Company due to the many innovative and cost effective breakthroughs embodied not only in GeckoNav, GeckoChat, and GeckoTrak, but also in additional, secondary systems that include: GeckoOrient™, GeckoMotorController™, the GeckoTactileShroud™, the GeckoImager™, and the GeckoSPIO™.

What Does a CareBot Do for the Care Giver?

The short answer is that it decreases the difficulty and stress for the caregiver that needs to watch over Grandma, Mom, or other family members most, if not much, of the time day in and day out due to concerns about their well being, safety, and security.

But, first let's look at some other labor saving, automatic home appliances most of us use routinely. For example, needing to do two or more necessary chores and/or activities at the same time, like laundering clothes and preparing supper.

The automatic washing machine needs no human intervention after the dirty clothes are placed in the washer, the laundry powder poured in, and the desired wash cycle set. Then, this labor saving appliance runs automatically until the washed clothes are ready to be placed in another labor saving home appliance, the automatic clothes dryer. While the clothes are being washed and/or dried, the caregiver prepares supper using several time saving home appliances like the microwave oven, "crock" pot, blender, and conventional stove, with possible convection oven capabilities.

After supper, the dirty pots, pans, and dishes are placed in the automatic dishwasher to be washed and dried while the family retires to the den to watch TV, and/or the kids to do homework. Later, perhaps after the kids have gone to bed, the caregiver may then have the time to fold, sort, and put up the now freshly laundered clothes.

So what does a CareBot do for the caregiver? It is a new type of labor saving, time management automatic home appliance.

For example, the care giver frequently feels time stress when they need to go shopping for 2 or 3 hours, and are uncomfortable when they have to be away for more than an hour or so. Time stress is much worse for the caregiver with a frail elderly parent that must be reminded to take medications at certain times of the day. How can the caregiver be away for 3-4 hours when Grandma must take her prescribed medication every 2 or 3 hours? If the caregiver is trapped in traffic for an hour or two beyond the 2 or 3 they expected to be gone, this "time stress" can be very difficult for the caregiver to moderate.

Not infrequently, the primary caregiver has a 24 hour, 7 days a week responsibility. After weeks and weeks of this sometimes tedious, if not onerous routine, how does the caregiver get a "day off?" To bring in an outsider is expensive (easily $75-125 per day for just 8 hours) and there is the concern that medication will be missed or the care receiver have an accident requiring immediate assistance by the caregiver, or someone they must designate. And the care receiver may be very resistant to a "stranger" coming in to her home and "running things."

So what is it worth for a care receiver to have an automatic system to help take care of Grandma? Just 3 or 4 days a month "off" on a daylong shopping trip, a visit with friends, or just take in a movie would cost $225-500 per month.  And that scenario assumes that Grandma is willing to be taken care of by a "stranger" during those needed and appropriate days off.

So perhaps, an automatic caregiver, a CareBot, might be pretty handy, and potentially very cost effective from the primary caregiver's perspective.

What Does a CareBot Do for the Care Receiver?

It's a new kind of companion that always stays close to them enabling family and friends to care for them from afar. It tells them jokes, retells family anecdotes, reminds them to take medication, reminds them that family is coming over soon (or not at all), recites Bible verses, plays favorite songs and/or other music. It alerts them when unexpected visitors, or intruders are present. It notifies designated caregivers when a potentially harmful event has occurred, such as a fall, fire in the home, or simply been not found by the CareBot for too long. It responds to calls for help and notifies those that the caregiver determined should be immediately notified when any predetermined adverse event occurs.

The family can customize the personality of the CareBot. The voice's cadence can be fast or slow. The intonation can be breathy, or abrupt. The voice's volume can range from very loud to very soft. The response phrases from the CareBot for recognized words and phrases can be colloquial and/or unique to the family's own heritage. The personality can range from brassy to timid depending on how the care giver, and others appropriate, chooses it to be.

Generally, the care receiver is pleased at the prospect of family being able to drop in for a "virtual visit" using the onboard webcam and video monitor for at home "video conferencing." The care receiver may feel much more needed and appreciated when their far flung family and friends can "look in" on them any where in the world where they can get broadband internet access and simply chat for a bit.

Why is Grandma really interested in a CareBot? She wants to stay in her home, or her family's home, as long as she possibly can. What's that worth? Priceless. Or, an average nursing home is $5,000 per month for an environment that is too often the beginning of a spiral downward in the care receiver's health. That's probably $2-3K more per month for them to be placed where they really don't want to be. Financial payback on a CareBot? Less than a year- Emotional payback for the family to have this new automatic care giver? Nearly instantaneous.

GeckoSystems stock is quoted in the U.S. over-the-counter (OTC) markets, on the Pink OTC Current Information tier, under the ticker symbol GOSY.

Main number: 1-866-CAREBOT (227-3268)
International: +1 678-413-9236
Fax: +1 678-413-9247
Source: GeckoSystems Intl. Corp.

Safe Harbor:

Statements regarding financial matters in this press release other than historical facts are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Company intends that such statements about the Company's future expectations, including future revenues and earnings, technology efficacy and all other forward-looking statements be subject to the Safe Harbors created thereby. The Company is a development stage firm that continues to be dependent upon outside capital to sustain its existence. Since these statements (future operational results and sales) involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time, the Company's actual results may differ materially from expected results.

SOURCE GeckoSystems International Corporation
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