Photo courtesy: Novalte

Novalte assists people with mobility challenges

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By Heidi Lee

Novalte is a technology startup incubated by Ryerson’s Design Fabrication Zone. The start-up created the Emitto, a device that aims to help people with mobility challenges to live independently without a caregiver.

The Emitto is a hub in an individual’s home that connects smart home devices together using technologies like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. At the same time, the system is linked to Novalte’s central server to ensure all devices work normally.

Michael Cullen, the co-founder of Novalte, had worked in multiple rehabilitation hospitals in Ontario for over a decade. He noticed the market was lacking technologies helping people with disabilities to be self-sufficient, so he found Novalte with his business partner Fredrico Coutinho, an electronic engineer with 25 years of experience in maintaining medical devices.

“People with mobility challenges rely on smart home devices to get through every single day. Their lives would be hindered when these technologies malfunction,” said Cullen. “Therefore, we need a system that could quickly resolve technical issues.”

Novalte’s centralized system allows people with mobility challenges to perform simple tasks such as opening and closing window blinds or turning on the TV. Photo courtesy: Novalte

This centralized system records all user interaction between the central hub and sent the data back to their secured website. It is able to immediately detect any technical problem, and then tackle it instantly.  

The Emitto could operate without Wi-Fi. This makes it different from a lot of the devices in the market as they could not operate without the internet. If the internet is down and the individual is unable to physically reset the router, Emitto would automatically fix the internet.

The system could also be tailored according to the client’s unique condition. Cullen said when he used to work in the hospital, he failed to design a system that suits everyone’s unique condition because each patient has their own needs.

Emitto makes this idea viable by remotely configuring the system depending on the client’s need.

It could be operated by voice. But in situations where the individual cannot speak, everything could be controlled by an accessible switch and automatic scan.

Currently, 15 clients have tried out the new system. One of the success stories belongs to Paul Vandergreidnet, an individual suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks parts of the peripheral nervous system.

Vandergreident lived with his girlfriend, but he still hoped to interact with his home while she went to work. With the help of the system, he is now able to control his entire home such as his blinds, bed and door using his voice.

The company continues to grow as it is gaining more recognition across North America.

Novalte was elected as one of the 50 Waterloo-Toronto corridor’s best startups that would be sent to Manhattan at the end of January 2019 to pitch for investment.

Cullen said he is looking forward to helping more people in the future.

“Every time we enter someone’s life along with the Emitto device, we change that person’s life forever,” said Cullen. “This is an incredibly powerful thing to do.”

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