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Expanice assisted a medical IoT company create an entire software suite for operating custom cryotherapy units

IoT Healthcare Case Study: How We Created a Cryotherapy Chamber Software Suite

Project Details

Technology stack

Team composition

5 PHP developers, 3 Android developers, 2 manual QA engineers

Project duration

32,000 hours/330 weeks (ongoing)

Methodology & engagement model

Agile (Scrum), Time and Materials (T&M)

Customer’s Product

A US-based startup created a healthcare IoT solution for cold therapy sessions — a custom cryotherapy chamber packed with temperature, oxygen, and heart rate sensors and thermal imaging infrared cameras. Our customer primarily collaborates with fitness and wellness facilities, leasing the equipment or engaging with their clients based on the revenue-sharing model.

The cryotherapy unit automatically detects human presence and fills itself with nitrogen, whose temperature never drops below -230 ℉ to prevent hypothermia and thermal burns. The cryotherapy sessions, which last between one and three minutes, help reduce muscle and joint pain, treat skin conditions and low-risk tumors, and recuperate from injuries and exhaustion.

The whole-body cryotherapy chamber runs on custom firmware developed by a third party.

On the hardware side, there are programmable logic controllers (PLCs) responsible for tracking the cryo unit performance indicators, such as the closing and opening of chamber doors and valves that regulate nitrogen circulation and the state of unit heaters.

These PLCs work in sync with custom Android tablets, which allow cryo chamber operators to oversee the treatment process and manage customer accounts. End users, meanwhile, leverage the tablets for obligatory identification preceding cryotherapy sessions and making secure payments.

There are infrared thermal cameras installed on cryo units. Following a cryotherapy session, a patient can download the procedure recording as a static image, GIF, or video. The system does not generate visuals if the IoT healthcare solution detects human presence via proximity sensors instead of a thermal camera.

The infographic visualizes the essential components of the cryotherapy chamber software suite.

The healthcare IoT solution comprises an array of hardware and software components facilitating efficient and safe cryotherapy sessions.

This scheme depicts the server-side components and interactions enabling the business logic and smooth functioning of the connected cryotherapy units.

As part of the project, we created a highly scalable, efficient, and resilient infrastructure supporting cryotherapy unit operations and management.

What We Did

Upon initial request, the client wanted to create an Android tablet app where patients could purchase subscriptions to cryotherapy sessions. The scope was well-defined, so we opted for the Waterfall approach and assigned one Android developer to the project.

The seemingly trivial app ultimately blossomed into an end-to-end cryotherapy chamber management software suite with CRM and POS capabilities, which underpins our customer’s entire business infrastructure.

The medical IoT solution’s core functionality spans:

Technology-wise, the cryotherapy spa software suite relies on the following components:

    1. Operating cryotherapy chambers, gathering performance data, and streaming promotional content to a display connected to the Android devices. The cryotherapy spa software suite allows B2B customers to replace the default ads with custom visuals, thus streamlining their marketing activities.
    2. Registering for cryotherapy sessions, logging into existing accounts, and paying for one-time procedures or subscription packages (on the end-user side).
    3. Adding or writing sessions off a customer’s account, making refunds, accepting payments in cash, and sharing debugging information with our client and the Expanice team (on the cryotherapy unit operator side).

This IoT healthcare case study would not be complete without a rundown of IoT software development and project management challenges we’ve encountered and masterfully solved. Let’s dive right in!

Challenges We Navigated

Operating Cryotherapy Chambers Using a Single Tablet App

The tablet app we’ve created connects to the PLC units mounted to cryotherapy units. Using the app, our client can turn on a cryo unit, cool it down before a cryotherapy session, and start the procedure.

The cryotherapy software solution also controls:

We record every session’s logs and keep them on the server for 12+ months. This, among other things, helps our customer solve disputes with clients, as we can check what is happening to every cryo unit at any interval.

In one such instance, we could prove that a company violated safety rules by allowing an uncertified cryotherapy chamber operator to perform a session. The operator in question covered a patient’s skin in water-based gel, which led to severe thermal burns.

Ensuring Patient Safety

Beneficial as it is, cryotherapy might pose considerable risks to a person’s health if not performed by licensed specialists.

To improve the safety and well-being of users undergoing the treatment, we enhanced the IoT healthcare solution with:

The cryotherapy chamber management suite also stores user preferences in the database. For instance, a patient may specify the optimum temperature and cryotherapy session length, and the system will automatically keep these settings for upcoming sessions.

Exercising Complete Control over Cryotherapy Units via a Single Admin Panel

The admin panel with an advanced user role management mechanism provides complete control over cryotherapy units, locations, and finances.

The web-based console of the cryotherapy chamber software management suite allows business owners to orchestrate their units from a single place while granting exclusive admin rights to our client.

Besides the Android apps that facilitate cryotherapy sessions on the user side, the cryotherapy spa software suite features a web-based admin console enabling our client and the companies that purchase cryo units to run their business and gain real-time visibility into the system performance.

Here’s a rundown of its key features:

Keeping the IoT Healthcare Solution Scope Under Control

What had started as a small Waterfall project became a years-long collaboration plagued by frequent scope changes.

Even though we switched to Agile/Time and Materials (T&M) early on, we estimate our client has paid for at least 300 man-hours of development activities that never yielded production-ready features.

For example, one reason for porting the Android 4 application to Android 7 was the constant feature set extension: the older operating system version could no longer support the desired functionality.

To prevent scope creep and prioritize cryotherapy spa software features, we now validate the necessity of implementing new functionality through customer interviews, feedback analysis, and proof of concept.

What’s Next

For the past couple of months, we’ve been working on a new feature — i.e., localized cold therapy sessions conducted with the help of XR ISO devices, which is lightweight handheld cryotherapy equipment.

This equipment uses a different liquid gas with a higher boiling temperature. Since localized cryotherapy has fewer contraindications, the safety requirements for such sessions have been loosened, too.

Otherwise, our client and business owners can register and manage the cryo equipment from the same admin console as whole-body cryotherapy chambers. The only difference is the one-time password (OTP) user authentication mechanism via a phone number.

The cryotherapy software suite auto-generates default email accounts for ISO customers, allowing them to access their profile, change the email address, and fill out the missing information to qualify for whole-body cryotherapy sessions. The same steps can be performed via the Android application upon visiting a whole-body cryotherapy location.

Contact us if you’ve enjoyed the IoT healthcare case study and want to learn more about the cryotherapy software project! The Expanice team can guide you through the IoT product development process, help with its launch, and provide expert maintenance services once the solution goes live.