Tendo – Artificial Grip Strength For People Suffering From Disabilities 2020
I interviewed Sofie Woge, CEO & Founder at Tendo AB. Tendo AB is a Swedish Health Tech Startup offering artificial grip strength. Tendo creates greater independence for people suffering from disabilities, which results in an improved self-image and quality of life as well as a reduced need of assistance from the community and family. Tendo is worn almost like a glove and enables a strong grip in more or less all everyday situations.
Why did you create Tendo?
I always wanted to work with something that would make a difference for people. However, I would never have imagined that it would be a medical exoskeleton, and through my own company, before I started Tendo. I had an idea, a concept, that I knew could change people’s lives, and I simply had to make something out of it. The first concept did not, however, look anything like the one we have today. It wasn’t even made for people on earth.
Founder personal story
I got the idea during a course at Master’s degree program (Industrial Design at Lund University). I, and others, got the opportunity to do a research project at NASA in Houston and there I found an area of opportunity to work with how the astronauts’ bodies would manage long distance space travel better, when e.g. going to Mars in the future. A lot of things affects the body in space, and one of them is that the microgravity make you very weak.
I limited myself to the hands and the concept I created was a glove that gave the astronauts a resistance in everything that they did, almost simulation gravity, to keep fine motor skills and strength. The glove could also be used in the opposite way, giving you artificial strength when needed. It offered either exercise or a boost.
I have family members with rheumatic diseases which made me realize that it exists a similar need on earth. I started to investigate it by going to patient organisations and was also invited to different peoples homes to see how they live their lives. There was no doubt that the need was great, and almost all people I met through the organizations verified this.
So I started to process of turning the astronaut-tool into something that would help people on earth, and I involved the people who would use it, from day one. Within a year, my co founders, Robin and Pontus, joined and we together secured our first investment.
That was in the end of 2016, beginning of 2017, and since then we have participated in a StartupHub at one of the world leading robotic clusters (OdenseRobotics), have been chosen by our branches world organization (ISPO) to present our innovative technology at their world congress in Japan, have been in a European funded acceleration program that recently appointed us the number one robotic startup in Europe, have had successful user studies and are now looking forward to an exciting spring with new collaborations, user studies, and further development steps.
What is your vision?
I want to make everyday life accessible for more people living with a physical disability and simply allow more people to regain their independence and quality of life. My vision does not stop with assisting the grip/hands.
I want to adapt our innovation to other parts of the body and become the leading developer of minimalistic exoskeletons. I want to transform the word exoskeleton from being associated with a big bulky machine to a slim and attractive wearable tech.
How do you help your customers and partners?
We are creating independence, and are thereby including more people into the society once again. This lowers the strain on the welfare systems and addresses global health care challenges. With our solution, people who e.g. are paralyzed in most part of their bodies, can perform everyday activities that you and I take for granted, like holding a fork, writing and drinking by themselves. We have successfully allowed a user to drink a glass of wine and dine by himself for the first time in over 20 years.
What makes Tendo different?
What makes us different is our slim size, low weight, innovative and intuitive control system and the fact that we have been working with the user throughout the whole process to make sure that the product is what they want and that it is made for them and not just according to a list of symptoms. Hence our slogan “For people, not symptoms”.
How to get in contact with Tendo?
By its website:
You can physically find us in Lund (Sweden) at Ideon Innovation
By its Social Networks:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dgroops-477708226083598/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tendo-ab/
- Instagram: @tendoforpeople
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Javier Nieto León