Exoskeletons, robots and smartphone controlled wheelchairs were just a few of the innovations to be seen at the Accessibility Innovation Showcase at MaRS, which wrapped up earlier this week. The three-day event shone a spotlight on innovative accessibility technology and assistive technology companies, coinciding with the 2015 Parapan Games happening and in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Over 50 exhibitors demonstrated how technology is being used to change the lives of people with disabilities.
Exoskeleton manufacturer ReWalk Robotics was just around the corner from Able Bionics demonstrating its wearable robot. Earlier this year, ReWalk was the first exoskeleton company to have received FDA approval for its device to be used for home use.
eSight eyewear was also demoing its transformative tech, which allows the legally blind to see with an early stage startup, iMerciv, also showing its tech for the legally blind, the Buzz Clip, at a nearby table. The Buzz Clip uses ultrasound to detect obstacles for the wearer and then buzzes to let them know to stop walking to avoid a collision. Telepresence robots, gesture tech and 3D printed prosthetics could also be found as part of the show.
Along with the exhibitors, the Accessibility Innovation Showcase featured some inspiring speakers and entertainers including Canada’s most decorated Paralympian, Chantal Petitclerc of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, and Founder of One Revolution and Paraplympic Hall of Famer, Chris Waddell.
Also part of the event, the Ontario Centre of Excellence ran a Tech Pitch competition with seventeen semi-finalist companies pitching their assistive technology to a panel of judges on Sunday, August 9 (of which I had the pleasure of moderating). Yesterday, the five finalists went in front of the final panel of judges who selected LegWorks, a startup who have created a revolutionary new prosthetic knee joint, as the winner of the $20,000 grand prize.