We get heaps of great questions through alex.simulaids.com‘s live chat channel, so we thought we’d collect the 5 most frequently asked functionality questions and share them in a post for all to read! We believe in transparency, so each answer is followed by our reasoning and rationale.
Does ALEX™ have reactive eyes?
ALEX does not have reactive eyes, this is in large part because of the HD camera within the right eye. We call it the IrisCam™
Rationale: Reactive eyes or iris camera: this was a feature decision and trade-off we made in the early stages of ALEX’s design. We circled back to our vision -pardon the pun- and objectives for ALEX: revolutionize simulation technology and provide a way for healthcare professionals to gain new insight into their interactions with patients.
What is the view from the camera like?
The IrisCam™ is a high definition camera (720p) with 5M pixel sensor with Omnivision sensor in a fixed-focused lens.
The IrisCam™ has been set in the eyeball at a downwards angle of approximately 30° allowing for optimal image capture. We recommend ALEX sitting at a 45° – 75° angle in a hospital bed or gurney with a pillow behind his head. The Angle of View: 54 x 41 degrees. Field of View: 2.0 x 1.33 m at 2 m – or more simply put, like the camera in your average smart phone.
Rationale: During early IrisCam development and customer beta testing, a wide angle lens option was explored to extend a field of view; however, lens are not yet small enough to fit into the eyeball and maintain a high level of realism. We’re fans of the Terminator franchise, but refuse to let that cloud our commitment to realism and fidelity.
What are ALEX’s physical characteristics?
ALEX is a Caucasian male and speaks North American English. However, female genitalia is included and interchangeable for dry urinary catheterization.
ALEX is 5’1″ (1.5m or 155cm) and weighs about 42 pounds (19kg or 3 stone).
Rationale: We limited ALEX’s height and weight for portability purposes. Early in ALEX’s design process, end-users shared feedback that patient simulators were too heavy and difficult for a single person to move. Thus we engineered ALEX to be lightweight and easily transportable. What we didn’t anticipate was the more recent feedback that given ALEX’s height, end users are considering him for adolescent scenarios in addition to adult scenarios!
We also receive a fair number of questions regarding language, a female voice, and skin tone. Read more about language and accents in our previous post here. With regards to both a female voice option and skin tone, the ALEX user community is the driving force behind our roap map. If you submit an intent to purchase / purchase order with the requirement of a female voice or skin tone, we will hold up our end of the promise.
How is ALEX™ able to speak and know how to respond?
There are several components to ALEX’s speech recognition and response, all of which happen in real time. The first component is using Google Cloud Speech™ to listen to what you’re saying and transcribing it to ALEX’s simulation Log. Then, ALEX determines if you’re asking him a question or making a statement. From there, ALEX has a unique algorithm that directs him to the appropriate answer. ALEX then vocalizes/synthesizes his response based on the selected scenario.
Rationale: Interact with ALEX as you would with any human patient: using good communication techniques – for example, open ended questions followed by direct clinical-interview questions. ALEX is programmed with four components of the medical history: History of Present Illness, Past Medical History, Family History, Social History with a few more scenario related questions pertaining to the mini-mental status exam or assessing spiritual/cultural needs. Conversational Categories will continue to expand as more users add scenarios.
ALEX’s algorithm will also continue to get ‘smarter’ as more users interact with him. During initial engineering of ALEX’s algorithm, we listened to dozens of third-year medical students conduct focused history and physical exams with Standardized Patients. One student would ask, “What brings you in today?“, while another student asked “How can I help you?”, while a third student would say, “What can I do for you today?” Because of his algorithm, ALEX knows these are three different ways of asking the same question: chief complaint.
Alternatively, interact with ALEX as you would with any virtual assistant like Apple Siri™, Amazon Alexa/Echo™, Microsoft Cortana™. The advancement of this technology (speech recognition & response) is relatively new, and evolving everyday. It’s simply not at the high-processing human brain conversational level, yet. One day, yes – but not today. Expect some machine-brain processing (0.5-1 second delay).
ALEX is continuously evolving both as the technology evolves and with each user’s interaction.
How does ALEX™ get updated? And are the updates free?
ALEX is a cloud connected simulator, thus receives software updates automatically. When ALEX is powered on and online (or connected) he will automatically update over the Wi-Fi/Connected Ethernet. The updates are included in the warranty of the version –
ALEX Lite: 1 year | ALEX Pro: 5 years | ALEX Plus: 5 years
Rationale: We work in fast-feedback cycles and take an iterative approach to product development. We are building software evolution guided by end-users. We want to send a powerful message:
Our customers are not ‘punished’ for purchasing early in ALEX’s lifespan.
Our customers avoid buyer’s frustration when a new version is released.
Our customers can start seeing and utilizing the benefits today with the confidence that their investment will continue to pay dividends over time. For the entire lifespan of the product, end-users can count on continuous upgrades and substantial enhancements.
We can do this (accomplish the above) because we utilize theflexibility of software and cloud connectivity. ALEX’s cloud connected nature, and other design decisions were made at thebeginning of development. The first major focus for our team was building the free upgrade infrastructure for ALEX.