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Exclusive: Smart wheelchair startup Arcatron Mobility gets seed funding

smart_chaie01Yet to launch Arcatron Mobility Pvt Ltd, which designs smart wheelchairs, has secured an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Sudhir Mehta, chairman and managing director of Pune-based Pinnacle Industries, and angel investor Anoop Hingorani.

The funds raised will be used for product development, and research and development, Arcatron Mobility co-founder Laxmikant Banjarey told Techcircle.in.

The Pune-based startup also won $100,000 worth of free credits from Google to be used across all Google Cloud Platform products, at the recently concluded Surge conference held in Bangalore.

“There is a lot of assistive technology present in the West to improve the quality of life and independence for the elderly and the immobilised. We want to reinvent the concept of assisted living here,” said Banjarey, who is also chief technology officer of Arcatron Mobility.

The startup is on its way to launch what it claims to be India’s first shower and commode wheelchair designed to ease the process of using the restroom and taking a bath. The product, named Arcatron SAS100, will be an attendant propelled wheelchair designed for senior citizens and individuals with limited mobility to access shower or commode in a secure and convenient manner.

The tool free height adjustability feature eases transfers to bed and allows the wheelchair to roll in over different commode heights. The smart wheelchair is water and corrosion resistant and can be fitted into a car.

The smart wheelchair, which is expected to be rolled out by April, will also come in a self-propelled variant. A base variant, meant mainly for the elderly, will be priced around Rs 8,000. The premium smart wheelchair version, that will assist the partially immobilised and paraplegics, is expected to cost around Rs 16,000. The company has tied up with a manufacturing partner for commercial production.

Currently, this space is dominated by Chinese players and foreign manufacturers. “Not only are they way too expensive, but they do not meet the needs of the user,” said co-founder Ganesh Sonawane. “A wheelchair which addresses the user’s discomfort and enhances a user’s level of independence is yet to come out. These are the multiple pain points we hope to address with this product,” he added.

Sonawane oversees the mechanical design of the products.

Founded in June 2015 by NIT Calicut alumni Banjarey, Kunal Kamble, Ganesh Sonawane and Dewaj Baruah, the idea for the product emerged in 2011 when the four designed a base variant of the product at an event for showcasing mobility products.

Arcatron is developing the prototype of an IoT (Internet of Things) enabled smart chair which can be customised and controlled with an Android app. However, the co-founders declined to give a timeline for the rollout of the product.

The on-demand customisation features envisaged in the product include BP (blood pressure) monitor, ECG (electro cardiogram) monitor, EEG (electro encephalogram) monitor and a host of other health parameters. Arcatron will also develop a personal emergency response system to call the caretaker at the touch of a button.

“There will be an integrated smartphone module in the chair which will make a call at the touch of a button,’ said Banjarey.

An Android app infrastructure to control the wheelchair and home automation is already in place. A cloud server infrastructure is also being prepared, whereby all the health parameters will be uploaded on its cloud servers real-time and can be viewed with an Android app.

According to Banjarey, India has the second largest population of elderly citizens at 110 million and this number is projected to reach 158.7 million by 2025. By 2050, it is expected to surpass the population of children below 14 years.

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