Herald Journal, Nov. 29, 2004
Electronic sensors with medical twist
By Darla Swanson
Since June of this year, Korosensor.com Inc. has occupied the former clinic building on Sixth Street in Howard Lake.
President and CEO Jeffrey Schoess, along with his director of engineering, Matt Rust, provide a medical service of another kind.
Korosensor doesn’t offer face-to-face patient care as the clinic did, but through innovative technology it gives care to patients right in their homes.
“We’re very pleased to be here,” Schoess said. “We’ll hopefully be an asset to the community.”
Founded in 2000, the company focuses on body-wearable sensing technology.
“Something that would be used in a medical application to promote the idea of self-care for a patient,” Schoess explained.
The sensing technology that Schoess and Rust make are prototypes for manufacturers of specific health care products. Product manufacturers work with Korosensor to produce future products through intellectual licensing agreements.
For example, people with diabetes may lose sensation in their feet, causing them to be more prone to injuries of the foot. Kicking a piece of furniture, for example, might cause an injury that could become infected. If the injury was not properly treated or would not heal, amputation could be necessary.
Korosensor’s sensory device could be put into a shoe insert, replacing the patient’s natural sensation with artificial sensing.
The technology is designed to “help the patients help themselves and be able to manage their own health better,” Schoess said.
Korosensor is developing other sensoring devices, as well.
One device will help monitor the healing progress of a bone fracture.
Another apparatus will help patients suffering with sleep apnea. The body-wearable device would measure the respiratory rate of the patient while asleep. The device would work with diagnostic equipment that helps the patient’s doctor monitor and determine the severity of the condition.
“The emphasis, again, is on the patient’s self-care at home, where they are most comfortable,” Schoess said.
Schoess and Rust are also designing a device that will aid people who have a colostomy.
A colostomy is a surgically created opening in the abdominal wall through which digested food passes. That waste is collected in an ostomy, a pouch the patient wears.
The sensor would inform patients of potential leaks in their ostomies, giving them the opportunity to prevent it. Korosensor has plans to add another dimension, creating a device using “smart material,” which would actually prevent the leak, itself.
National Institutes of Health, through a small business innovative research grant, helps Korosensor fund its research and technology.
Most recently, the Howard Lake firm received a $589,317 grant that will fund their work for two years.
The money will specifically go toward developing “a self-dispensing respiratory effort band to reliably detect subtle apnea and improve registration of sleep-disordered events,” Schoess said. “The effort band will be self-dispensed like a roll of tape, offering a low-cost disposable product that eliminates custom band sizes and tension setting via loop or buckle setting.”
The grant, administered by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Washington, DC, is a portion of the $20 billion a year that is granted for the development of new technology.
The National Institutes of Health provides seed money to companies like Korosensor to help them get started and initiate new technology.
“It’s good use of the taxpayer’s money,” Schoess said.
The technology Korosensor is researching and developing is designed to promote patients’ independence. He emphasized that, for patients, the products will “improve their lives and extend their health.”
Both Schoess and Rust live in Buffalo. Rust is a recent graduate of South Dakota State University with a degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis in biomedical engineering.
Schoess is a University of Minnesota graduate in electrical engineering. He holds 15 American and European patents. He worked as a Honeywell corporate scientist for 16 years at the Honeywell Technology Center, which involved sensor research on projects such as the space shuttle, aircraft, and automobiles.
Schoess said his current work stems from his Honeywell experience.
Now, he works on sensors technology for people rather than the aerospace industry. Schoesss said, “The human side was a natural fit for me.”