5 Innovative Allied Health Start- ups

Tilly Alita with two Bionic Hero Arm

I want to preface this blog post by saying Thank-You to the team at Eazilee for allowing me to undertake such a fun project for the last 3 months. It has truly been a pleasure.

My project was called the “Digital Allied Health” project. This project was based around innovative allied health start-up companies and the products they are providing for clients and consumers. This project was designed to gather information on new and innovative allied health start-up companies and provide the information gathered to the consumers of Eazilee. Within this blog post, you will be able to find information on 5 Start-Up Companies that are changing the world with their new and innovative assistive technology and devices.

Aira

Founded in 2015, Aira or Artificial Intelligence and Remote Assistance is a start-up company started in San Diego, California. Aira have developed an app that aims to provide assistance to people who are visually impaired or blind. They aim to achieve this through the use of technology by enhancing their everyday experiences, occupational efficiency, independence and occupational engagement.

Aira Tech Corp has dedicated their time and efforts into making people lives easier, simpler and more fun. Aira employs a network of trained professionals and agents who remotely assist the visually impaired, called “Explorers”, with their occupations and tasks. 

For example the occupations they assist with can include: Crossing roads, going to visit family or going shopping. The Aira Agents are also able to connect with users who are deaf or hard of hearing by using the Messaging function on the app. Aira predominantly works through wearable and augmented reality, using the Aira Horizon Smart Glasses. These glasses allow the Agents of the “Explorers” to act as their eyes. These agents are connect to the “Explorers” through the Aira Application.

Person with Visual Impairment using Aira and Cane

The Aira App is a new and innovative technology different from what we are used to as clinicians and consumers providing an online and instant form of healthcare. The Aira.io App has been available to the public since 2017 and is available for all smart mobile phone users in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. The app can be found on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Aira have also teamed up with various businesses to ensure that they are inclusive for people who may be hard of hearing, deaf, blind or visually impaired.

Aira is available on a monthly package ranging from “Guest, Intro, Standard and Advanced”. Explorers are also able to add additional minutes if they exceed their limit which can be done by paying an additional one off fee.

The Packages Aira Offer include:
Guest Package: Access to the Aira Access Calls, Free Aira Offers and the Smart Phone App.

Introduction Package: Free 5 Minute call per 4 hours, 30 minutes of calls, All of the Guest Features, Connection with Agents 24/7 and a referral program.

Standard Package: Free 5 minute calls every 4 hours, 120 minutes of call time, All guest features, Connection with agents 24/7, referral program, and minute sharing with 2 other people.

Advanced Package: Free 5 minute calls every 4 hours, 300 minutes of call time, All guest features, Connection with agents 24/7, referral program, and minute sharing with 2 other people.

Package Pricing List:

US and Canada:                  Australia:                           New Zealand:                United Kingdom and Ireland:
Guest: Free                          Guest: Free                        Guest: Free                     Guest: Free
Intro: $29                             Intro: $40                            Intro: $40                        Intro: £24
Standard: $99                     Standard: $140                  Standard: $150             Standard: £79
Advanced: $199                 Advanced: $280                 Advanced: $300            Advanced: £159            

Open Bionics

Open Bionics are a bionics company that are developing affordable devices with the aim of enhancing the body. Open Bionics was founded in 2014, by Joel Gibbard and Samantha Payne. Based in Bristol UK, the team at Open Bionics are working closely with their consumers to develop devices that are especially suited to them. 

The team at Open Bionics have developed a multi-grip bionic hand called the Hero Arm. Each Hero Arm is custom built to match the needs and measurements of each client and can be purchased through private clinicians who are partnered with Open Bionics.

The Hero Arm works using myoelectric prostheses. Myoelectric is the term used for the electric properties that our bodies muscles have. Once the Hero Arm receives the electric signals produced by the muscles in the arms, the Hero Arm activates different grips with precision and proportional control. 

Not only do Open Bionics provide the Hero Arm, but they also develop Hero Arm Covers that can be customisable, or different designs as a way to personalise your Hero Arm. The Open Bionics Hero Arm differs from what we as clinicians are able to provide for individuals who have lost parts of their limb. The Here Arm device allows users to use the affected hand to complete occupations and engage in activities that they previously were unable to attempt.

The Hero Arm developed by Open Bionics is available privately through clinics that are partnered together. The prosthetic clinicians receive a 3D scan or physical case of the limb, and create a custom-built prosthetic Hero Arm. However, to be eligible for the Hero Arm, the individual must meet the certain requirements.

These requirements include:
-Below elbow difference
-Being aged 8 or over.

Unfortunately, The Hero Arm is not currently available for individuals under the age of 8 although Open Bionics are continuing to develop technologies with the aim to do so. Open Bionics aim to expand their reach from 2020 and onwards, where they currently provide their services to the following countries:
-The UK, USA, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the Netherlands.

As the Hero Arm is only purchasable through private clinics that are partnered with Open Bionics, the device itself may be out of reach for their target audience due to the expenses and place of residence.

The featured stories are an integral selling point for the Hero Arm developed by Open Bionics. Having numerous success stories, Open Bionics pride themselves in bringing joy to the individuals who are using their assistive technology device. Click here to read Open Bionics success stories.

Boy with Spider Man Bionic Hero Arm
Photo: Zac Dubin Courtesy of Open Bionics
Tilly Alita with two Bionic Hero Arm
Photo : Tilly Alita courtesy of Open Bionics

Consequential Robotics

Founded in 2016 by Sebastian Conran, Professor Tony Prescott and Dr Ben Mitchinson, Consequential Robotics are a robotics service that are engineering and developing next generation consumer and commercial robots. Consequential Robotics have the aim of developing robotic platforms and assistive systems that have the aim to enhance the quality of life of humans. Consequential Robotics work with a range of partners to help with the designs and development of their unique robotic systems. Consequential Robotics take the approach of “Building on Biomimetic, Appropriate Autonomy and Human-Centred Designs”.

Consequential Robotics have made their devices available for the public to purchase and are available in a wide range of countries. Consequential Robotics make the purchasing process easy by having the option to purchase their assistive devices on their website.

The MiRo

The MiRo is an autonomous robot that can be useful for people at all abilities and stages of their lives. The MiRo has an innovative operating system and has a wide range of sensors that can react to sound, touch and movement, allowing it to be an interactive device for all ages. The MiRo has been developed with the aim of building relationships between human and the robotic devices. The MiRo can share personal spaces and interact with their users, providing emotional engagement and entertainment. The MiRo is a device that is currently available to be purchased. The MiRo is currently priced at £2450 or $4420. 

The Intellitable

Consequential Robotics currently have devices available to purchase, as well as have devices that are in the developmental and prototyping stages. The “Intellitable” device is currently in the prototype phase. The “Intellitable” is a semi-autonomous table that is able to move on its own and adjust the height and altitude of the tables surface. The “Intellitable” is intended for domestic and industrial use. The “Intellitable” can be programmed using smartphones to be voice activated, as well as uses sonar and ceiling tracking optics to allow for self-learning navigation.

 

The Omniseat

The “Omiseat” is a wheelchair device that is in development by Consequential Robotics. The “Omniseat” was designed for domestic homes that have confined and restrictive space. The “Omniseat” has the ability to steer omnidirectionally, sideways driving, vertical seat positioning, and has a tilt function with automatic adjustments on ramps, which provides the users with more range of freedom than the traditional wheelchairs.

Consequential Robotics devices are useful for people with a range of abilities. The MiRo is helpful for building relationships and acts as an emotional support device. The Omniseat is helpful for individuals who require powered or manual wheelchairs. The Omniseat allows individuals to perform occupations to the best of their ability. The Ominseat provides their users with the ability to be independent when completing occupations.

What makes Consequential Robotics devices different from what we are used to in traditional practice, is that they focus on the autonomy aspect of their devices, with the aims of promoting independence and occupational engagement. However a potential barrier for some consumers can be the pricing of the devices.

Omni Seat

Wandercraft

Wandercraft was founded in 2012 by Nicolas Simon, Alexandre Boulanger and Matthieu Masselin. Wandercraft was established with the aim of helping the walking-impaired to walk again. Where they worked on developing a well-constructed team to design and produce an exoskeleton. In 2017, Wandercraft premiered their Exoskeleton, showing that a paraplegic person can walk using the device. In 2019, the Atalante Exoskeleton was made available for commercial use. In developing the self-balanced exoskeletons they aimed to emulate human walking with state of the art dynamic walking algorithms. The Wandercraft team believe that frequency, intensity and duration of the rehabilitation sessions is essential for efficient gait re-training.

The Wandercraft Atalante Exoskeleton is currently in use in European rehabilitation hospitals with the aim of assisting Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury patients re-learn gait. Wandercraft hope to be able to release the Atalante Exoskeleton to the public and clinicians in the USA in 2021. Wandercraft aim to develop “personal” versions of the exoskeleton within the “next few years” with no official date set. Wandercraft have an upcoming project that aims to create an Atalante Exoskeleton for children.

 The Atalante Exoskeleton empowers the therapists to provide rehabilitation sessions that are task and goal orientated, non-repetitive, challenging and stimulating. Wandercraft believe that completing occupations that are familiar to the individual will promote neuroplasticity and help regain their ability to walk. The Atalante Exoskeleton is controlled by a remote control program AGUI. Using the AGUI the Clinician is able to control the step-length and rhythm to fit the patient’s needs.

The Wandercraft Atalante Exoskeleton is different to what we are used to as clinicians and consumers and provides a new way of retraining gait in mobility impairment. The Atalante Exoskeleton is allowing individuals who are no longer able to walk, with the ability to walk autonomously.

Consumer Statements:
“He is so happy, this is the first time I have seen him motivated since his accident”
“It is amazing how quickly you can become one with the robot, it is super easy to use”

Click here to find out more about the Wandercraft Atalante.

Scewo

A Zurich Based Company, Scewo was founded in 2017 with the aims of developing a powered wheelchair, that is versatile and has the ability to climb and descent stairs safely which can be used daily. Scewo aim to “redefine life of disabled people with design and outstanding functionality”.

After several years of research and prototype development, in 2018 Scewo have been able to develop and launch a powered wheelchair that meets their criteria.

The Scewo bro is a modern and aesthetically pleasing designed electric powered wheelchair that comes with a wide variety of features and abilities.

These features and abilities include:
-The Scewo Bro has a unique set of LED headlights.
-The Scewo Bro can be controlled using the onboard joystick which controls the direction and driving speed. However, the driving modes can also be controlled and changed using the smartphone application.
-Range of functional modes: Driving Mode, Park Mode and Track Mode.
-The Scewo Bro can be also climb stairs with the push of a single button. The Scewo Bro lifts you on to the first step, where you control the speed and direction of the climb.
-Height adjustable seat to ensure that the users are able to fit under tables, as well as reach the top shelf.
-The Backrest of the Scewo Bro is electronically adjustable as the seat depth can be adjusted for your comfort.
-Has a Relax Function that tilts the seat, backrest and footrest so that the user can be in a relaxing position, which aims to relieve the pressure within the seat area and gives you time to relax.

The price of the Scewo Bro is ₣36’000 or $57,785 excluding VAT, transport costs and duty costs.

Click here to find out more about the Scewo Bro.

The Scewo Bro has been a success and is currently sold out. However, Scewo are currently taking Pre-Orders for their upcoming series of Scewo Bro which will arrive to its customers within the next year. At the current time, the Scewo Bro Is available for the following Countries; Switzerland, Austria and Germany. However, Scewo are aiming to expand and are working towards making the Scewo Bro more accessible to users who are required to use a powered wheelchair.

The Scewo Bro is useful for all individuals who are required to use a wheelchair as form of transportation and mobility. What makes the Scewo Bro electric powered wheelchair so unique and different is the wheelchairs ability to scale and climb stairs. For wheelchair users in the past, stairs have been a limiting factor, however the Scewo Bro eliminates that issue and allows its users to explore and access more areas of their community.

I hope you have found the information I have presented informative and valuable. As an Occupational Therapy Student, I am very excited to see what the future holds for the assistive technology world.

These incredible start-companies have been able to develop technologies and devices that are changing the way we are able to provide care, and are continuing to develop devices that will further enhance the way we live our lives.

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