NASA Success Story: Indago, Cleveland, Ohio

NASA Glenn Research Center — April 3, 2019

Product: ArthroFree

ArthroFree is the world’s first fully wireless minimally invasive camera designed for use in endoscopic surgeries. ArthroFree eliminates the wires and cables used in current endoscopic technologies, reducing the time required for setup, takedown, and sterilization while providing significant cost savings.  

Challenge

Indago (formerly Infinite Arthroscopy, Inc.) is a medical device company on a mission to create the operating room of the future through smart surgical tools. Indago sought help from NASA subject matter experts (SMEs) to find  an effective battery and power management solution for their ArthroFree device.

“One of our fundamental challenges was how to take a hardwired minimally invasive surgical camera and make it battery-powered,” said Indago CEO and cofounder Eugene Malinskiy via email. “Prior to consulting with NASA, we had devised the basic parameters for a battery-powered system; however, there were two aspects that we wanted to improve. First, we wanted to increase the efficiency and capacity of our power system so that the device would last longer on a single charge. Second, we
wanted to minimize the weight and size of the battery to improve the device’s ergonomics.”

“The NASA subject matter experts [SMEs] were incredibly knowledgeable and provided deeper insight into the various battery chemistries available to us, as well as their construction, benefits, and limitations.” —Eugene Malinskiy, CEO and cofounder, Indago

NASA Connection

The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) introduced Indago to the Adopt-a-City program, a joint  effort of the NASA Glenn Research Center, the city of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and MAGNET. Adopt-a-City provides  up to 40 hours of pro bono assistance from NASA experts to small and midsized manufacturers to help solve technical challenges with a new or existing product. Indago’s three cofounders—Eugene Malinskiy (CEO), Daniel Dudley (COO), and Ilya Malinskiy (Lead Engineer)—were connected with NASA Glenn Research Center SMEs Thomas Miller, Damir Ljubanovic, Raymond Wade, and Daniel Raible. Among the SMEs’ areas of expertise were lithium-ion battery performance and electrical power system design—exactly what Indago needed to address their challenge.

Solution

NASA SMEs helped Indago select a lithium-ion chemistry and zero in on the optimal cell type for their application. One of the battery cells Indago had been considering was currently being used in certain NASA satellites. The SMEs’ familiarity with the cell and its performance, noted Eugene Malinskiy, “allowed us to determine that it was one of the best choices we could make for a battery cell.”

Not only did the consultation allow Indago to identify, test, and select the battery cell that now powers the ArthroFree device, NASA’s insight and expertise also helped Indago significantly advance the hardware design of their power management system. Damir Ljubanovic of Glenn’s Power Management and Distribution Branch analyzed the system’s schematics to find ways to increase efficiency.

“The NASA consultation greatly benefited our company  and product,” concluded Malinskiy. “As a small group of engineers with diverse backgrounds, we were able to leverage NASA’s deep expertise to validate our assumptions regarding our battery and power system, while also receiving suggestions on how to improve our designs in the future.”

“Most satisfying and enjoyable, in my opinion, was the ability to provide guidance on new, innovative ideas that lead to state-of-the-art technology.” —Damir Ljubanovic, NASA Glenn Electrical Engineer and consultation team member

Success

ArthroFree has been demonstrated in both benchtop and subsystem settings and is now in the final stages of development. The device is patent pending and is projected to receive FDA approval early in 2020. As for Indago, this Northeast Ohio (NEO) startup continues to gain recognition.

  • First NEO company to be accepted in StartUp Health
  • First NEO company to receive AngelMD syndicate funding
  • First NEO company to join the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC)
  • First U.S. company to be accepted in the NXP Single Chip Module i.MX6 Beta development program

Economic Impact

  • $5.5 million capital raise completed since participating in Adopt-a-City
  • Six full-time jobs and four part-time paid summer internships created
  • $600,000 has benefited Northeast Ohio (including investment in engineering, legal, IP, and marketing, and excluding employee salaries)
  • Indago has worked with a local contract manufacturer, fulfillment partner, three electrical design firms, and one industrial design firm

Read more NASA Glenn Success Stories at https://www.grc.nasa.gov/regecondev/red-success/. For more information, contact GRC-RED@mail.nasa.gov.

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