Purdue startup commercializing assistive wheelchair technology receives $200,000 from NSF

December 15, 2015  


 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue startup has received federal funding to further develop an assistive wheelchair technology that allows power wheelchair users an efficient and easy-to-use method to more easily position and remove an iPad and other mobile devices.

Prehensile Technologies has received a STTR Phase I grant from the National Science Foundation worth just over $200,000. The company was co-founded by Brad Duerstock, Purdue University associate professor in the College of Engineering, and Li Hwa Chong, CPA, Purdue alumnus and chief financial officer.

Prehensile Technologies is commercializing RoboDesk, a motorized wheelchair tray that utilizes an arm to deploy or retract a mobile electronic device such as a tablet, without hindering the wheelchair's normal seat functions.

Duerstock said the NSF grant will allow the company to complete an extensive market analysis.

"Our product will be built entirely based on the perspective of the user so that people with disabilities can have easy access to mobile computing and this grant will help us collect this information," he said. "We want to really grasp what power wheelchair users need and want in our RoboDesk technology, so we plan to find out this information by conducting focus groups. We also will ask the focus groups and beta testers to try and break our product so we can see its flaws first hand and use that information to improve the quality of the product and make it more sustainable."

Prehensile Technologies previously received $20,000 funding from the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund First-Tier Black Award. The company said these opportunities will allow them to reach their short- and long-term goals.

"Short term, we want to commercialize the RoboDesk and start seeing it on people's wheelchairs as soon as possible," said Duerstock. "In the long term, we want to reach the point of running a sustainable business. We hope to advance the technology to be used on manual wheelchairs and eventually for any seating system such as recliners, or beds, where people just want to work on a computer comfortably."

Prehensile Technologies licensed the innovation through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. It is a member of the Purdue Startup Class of 2015. A video about the company can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryK2NRsjWpA

About Prehensile Technologies
Prehensile Technologies is commercializing RoboDesk, an assistive wheelchair technology which utilizes a mounting system and automatically removable tray to provide people with disabilities an efficient and easy-to-use method to more easily position and remove an iPad or other mobile devices. The technology can be used for seating systems including wheelchairs, recliners and beds.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year by the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at innovation@prf.org. 

Purdue Research Park contact: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org 

Source: Bradley S. Duerstock, 765-496-2364, bsd@purdue.edu 

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