Posted on Monday, June 4, 2018
For Indian students, Manmeet Maggu and Rahul Udasi--both 27--of the University of Toronto, the inspiration for Trexo Robotics, a wearable robotic device for children with disabilities, came from Magu’s nephew Praneit who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. “We tested the prototype on Praneit who lives in Delhi. When we watched him taking his first steps using our device, it was an incredibly proud moment. This summer we will bring him a more refined version,” says Maggu, CEO of Trexo Robotics who co-founded the company with Udasi, the startup’s CTO in 2016.
The duo first met when they were studying mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. While Maggu went on to do a Master’s of Business Administration at the University of Toronto (UoT), Rahul did a Master’s of Engineering from the same university. It was through Trexo Robotics, the duo set on a mission to redefine mobility solutions. “Our current version is the product that children will use with some add-on features we hope to design in the future,” Udasi says.
Trexo Robotics has been recognised among the top five innovative startups by the Canadian Innovation Awards and receives regular support from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Cincinnati Children's Hospital in the US.
What is Trexo Robotics?
Trexo works by attaching two wearable robotics legs to a passive walker. The child wears the robotic legs which assist the child's knee and hip joints by using battery power. “The device is operated using a tablet that allows a physiotherapist to adjust joint angles, speed and amount of strength provided at each joint,” says Maggu.
Since Trexo’s inception, the Entrepreneurship Hatchery at the University of Toronto was helpful in setting up the team’s business and giving access to resources. Later, Trexo Robotics took part in the Creative Destruction Lab, an accelerator programme at the Rotman School of Management, which helped in refining the business model and connecting with a number of mentors and investors.
Trexo Robotics did have its fair share of challenges though. “The regulatory landscape is complex and we need large investments up front to build the hardware. We benefitted from the flourishing start-up ecosystem in Toronto. Fortunately for us, the cerebral palsy and childhood disability community is very tight-knit and parents have been supportive in working with us,” says Maggu.
The team’s experience with children who have tried the device at their facility is overwhelming. “We have seen kids who can barely take 2-3 steps, walk over 200-300 steps within one session while using our device. It is always exciting to see how much joy it brings to both the children and their parents,” Maggu adds.
Presently, the device is being prototyped with the first trial set to begin this summer with the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The team’s goal is to make this device accessible to children for home use, and in future, expand their product line for the elderly and adults.
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