Intuitive Surgical and Computer Motion Merge to Create Concentrated Robotics Play
Tired of fighting each other in court, the two leading robotics companies have decided to render their IP differences moot through a merger.
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Robotic-driven technology has begun to transform surgery, but not without leaving some surgeons unimpressed. Now Corindus is trying to bring robots to the cath lab -- and this time physicians love the technology because it provides an ergonomically better experience and both enhances the procedure and reduces health problems.
The tremendous success of Intuitive Surgical over the past two decades seems clearly to argue that robotics is more than a techy's pipedream. Intuitive has already revolutionized at least one procedure - laparoscopic prostatectomy - and it figures to make significant progress in a range of others, in men's health, women's health, and cardiovascular surgery, to name just a few relevant clinical spaces. Even more impressive has been its success as a publicly traded company; for much of the middle years of this decade, Intuitive's stock was the strongest performer among all medical device public offerings. And perhaps most interesting: until recently, Intuitive was virtually the only robotics company to achieve any kind of success at all. In Vivo interviews Lonnie Smith, the CEO of the company for much of the 1990s and 2000s, to whom much of the credit should go.
All but dead a half a dozen years ago, MAKO Surgical is alive and well with an innovative technology platform that both embraces robotics and looks past it. Key to MAKO's strategy: a focus on unicompartmental knee procedures that are extremely difficult to do manually but, company officials hope, are significantly enabled by its robotic arm platform. If company officials are right, MAKO's robotics system could help explode the unicompartmental segment of the knee market without cannibalizing the total knee replacement segment. This year's AAOS meeting was a kind of coming out party for MAKO, whose major challenge now is convincing surgeons that robotics is more than just an intriguing gadget-it's a critical part of the surgical armamentarium