Weakness of the musculoskeletal system can cause movement problems that decrease a person’s quality of life. This weakness may be the result of genetic disorders, a neurological condition or injury, or simply healthy ageing. Unfortunately, many of these conditions cannot be healed with the current state of medical care available. As a result, the best option to regain mobility is the use of assistive technologies.
MyoSwiss, a spinoff from ETH Zurich, develops technological solutions that improve the quality of life of people with mobility impairments. The target groups are both patients undergoing rehabilitation training in clinics as well as individuals who need assistive technologies in their everyday lives.
MyoSwiss produces the Myosuit: A clothing layer of wearable muscles that supports daily life activity. The solution combines robotics and functional textiles in a convenient product that weighs less than five kilograms. Novel algorithms coupled with sensing and actuating technology control the assistive forces applied throughout the user’s movements.
How does the Myosuit work? Sensors at the knee and hip detect the movement the wearer intends to make. The Myosuit then gives the necessary assistance to help complete the movement. For example, it will help push you up when you lean to stand up, or it will slowly support you when you are sitting down. The Myosuit does not initiate any movement but waits for the user’s lead. It is designed to give a supportive push just at the right time.
Our society is ageing and mobility impairments are a big issue that will increasingly challenge our healthcare system. The team around CEO Jaime Duarte and CTO Kai Schmidt is fine tuning the first version of the Myosuit. In April 2019 the product will be available on the market.
What inspired you to start your company?
We started MyoSwiss because we saw a great opportunity to bring to the market technology that can change people’s lives.
What entrepreneur(s) do you admire and why?
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. I especially like his take on managing people; what to look for when hiring and how to manage people within the company.
Can you tell us a short story about a customer using your product?
We have had users try out the device who have expressed that they could envision themselves using it in their everyday lives to help them move. This vision is what drives us to bring the Myosuit to the market as soon as possible.
What do you love about your own leadership role in your company?
Motivating the team, creating the right environment for the company to succeed. I also enjoy connecting with people who are interested in the project and seeing how it can impact their lives.
Why did you apply for the W.A. de Vigier Award?
The de Vigier was attractive for its long tradition in supporting startups in Switzerland. We understand how important it is to have the right network of people to support an idea and help it grow.
What are your impressions so far about the W.A. de Vigier Award?
I’ve particularly enjoyed the focus on the people behind the company.