It might be the holy grail of the prosthetics world: an artificial limb that moves in response to the thoughts of the person wearing it. And such a device has been developed by two students at Ryerson, Thiago Caires and Michal Prywata of startup
. The young company--less than a year old--has drawn attention from major media outlets around the world
, including, locally, CBC, Global
and the Toronto Star
Prywata says they are motivated to develop medical devices that extend and enhance the lives of those suffering--they're seeking out flaws or gaps in current medical technology that they can address. Their first prototype, a robotic forearm controlled by the brainwaves of the wearer, uses brainwave technology that's already been developed for video games and fairly basic mechanical moving parts. The pair hope to eventually market the device for less than $20,000.
Another product they have under development will likely hit the market sooner, Prywata says. They have developed a mobility device that will allow paralyzed people to walk, and the company is currently seeking manufacturing facilities and regulatory approvals to commercialize the technology.
They built their invention while both were students at Ryerson, working out of Thiago's home. Since unveiling it, they have moved into the business incubator at Ryerson's DMZ
, and have begun developing other products. Plans include a prosthetic hand and an artificial lung, as well as innovative surgical procedures.
Prywata says that the company is growing quickly. "We're up to 16 employees now, and this has all happened in the past two months. This spring, we didn't even have a company yet, now we have a lot of people working to build a company." He says the founders have received quite a few offers from venture capitalists already, but are waiting to further develop the company before accepting outside investment.
Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Michal Prywata, Bionik Labs; Toronto Star; Ryerson DMZ