In 2011 for the inaugural Robogals Science Challenge, Alexandra K camera first in the intermediate division. I was so impressed by her that when she asked if she could do her year 10 work experience with me, I immediately said yes. So she spent two weeks at the 2Mar offices. During her time in the offices, we attended What’s Out There Day at the Royal Talbot, where Alexandra got to demonstrate Jeva to people in the community. Here’s what she said about her two week work experience.
My name is Alexandra, and I am currently in Year 10. At the beginning of April, I was lucky enough to complete two weeks of Work Experience at 2Mar Robotics! My time there was so valuable! I learnt so much… and I had heaps of fun!! Some of the many things that I was able to do were: building robot arms, researching and designing new parts, demoing Jeva and learning how to do computer aided design. I was even able to visit Melbourne University and see 3D printing and laser cutting in action! Everyone at 2Mar is so wonderful, welcoming and helpful, which made my experience even better!! Now that I have tried all of these things, I am so excited for my future… I hope to work in the field of robotics and this experience has shown me so many aspects of it! Thank you so much to 2Mar for giving me this fantastic opportunity!
You can check out Alexandra’s winning entry to the Science Challenge here.
We were invited to be on ABC’s #TalkAboutIt to showcase Jeva. Australia Network’s #TalkAboutIt is a social-media talk show where the issues trending in the region are discussed, whether it’s on social media or in the news. #TalkAboutIt is broadcast to 45 countries across Asia, with a target audience of primarily 18-35 year olds.
So on the afternoon of the shoot, we thought of some tricks that Jeva could do for camera. I was really impressed that on the first try, and on camera, Jeva successfully fed me tic tacs (posing as medication), and gave me water from a water bottle – at the correct angle. Jeva also successfully fed me fish balls, gave the reporter a chocolate and drew a face. Check out Jeva’s efforts on international television here.
I got a call from Nick Fryer. Nick and his identical twin brother Chris both have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and are interested in how robotics could be useful to people with disabilities. So I invited them to our office to check out what we’re working on. They wrote a blog post about meeting with us. This is taken from their blog, which they post daily:
We went down to 2Mar Robotics today. 2Mar is a new robotics company based in Melbourne and founded by Marita Cheng, who was young Australian of the year in 2012.
Their first product is the Jeva robotic arm. This arm mounts on a wheelchair and can be controlled using an iPhone or iPad (android support coming soon). It could help disabled, or chronically lazy, people open doors, press elevator buttons or pick objects up off the floor. The primary control of the robot arm is the iPhone and iPad, but the arm can also be trained to do complex tasks and repeat them when called for.
We had a good talk with Marita about some of the projects that we have been working on and ideas on how she could make Jeva useful to the maximum number of disabled people. Marita even gave us some homework. We need to work out how to use a mouse with an iPad as touchscreens are difficult for us to use.
Anyway I promised some pictures and here they are.
This arm is a prototype and is what was used for the demonstration. It was easy and intuitive to control from the iPad.
This is Nick with a later model on his table. I believe it is pretty similar on the inside, but has a sexy black casing around it.
Gripping a ball. It can’t play catch…yet
Nick’s robot arm.
The last paragraph has a list of photographs that they posted at their blog. So make sure you check it out!
Like a true fan-girl, since I read Steve Wozniak had wanted to go to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) all those years back, I wanted to go to CES. I talked about it so much that one day my friend got fed up with me and said, “you’re going to CES next year.” So that was sorted. Next, I wasn’t sure whether to exhibit or not. I spoke to lots of people. Finally, one mentor said, “well, if you go, you’ll want to talk to people about your arm. You’re not allowed to do that on the show floor. If you have a booth, people will come to you to talk about your robotic arm.” I was sold. I went to CES and I exhibited there.
It was full-on! Day 1 of exhibiting, my friend Cynthia got delayed in getting there, so I had to man the fort by myself. I didn’t eat until 10pm that night!
I was in Eureka Park with all the startups but I went to the main hall and took photos of all the robots in the robotics section to show my team. You can check them out here!
Highlights: we got onto the Channel 10 News in Australia, which a lot of people emailed me about to tell me that they had seen.
It was also a nice post-CES surprise that 2Mar won an iPad mini as part of a photo-liking competition on Facebook. We use it everyday now to test and develop our Jeva app. Very useful. Thanks Pixe! We’re chuffed we won!
I got to meet some really cool people whose companies I follow, and make some great connections to inspiring people. It was a full-on and crazy experience. I will definitely go back.
After travelling for over 15 hours, I went straight to the Park Hyatt, changed into a frock and attended the Med Tech’s Got Talent Gala Dinner to pitch 2Mar Robotics in front of a roomful of people in black-tie. The pitch was for 3 minutes. No slides. No props. 15 semi-finalists were to become 5 finalists.
2Mar Robotics received the “Most Opportunity for Global Impact” award. I was blown away! I love the project and the work we’re doing. It’s so nice to know other people appreciate and support our work as well. Thank you for all your support!
MedTech’s Got Talent is a unique entrepreneurship challenge to support the young entrepreneurs to develop and refine skills in pitching a business concept, developing a technology roadmap and launching commercialisation activities for their enabling medical technology innovations. Our objective is to develop a more entrepreneurial culture driven by promising young entrepreneurs within a growing enabling technology ecosystem.
I donned my white cowboy hat, rode the bus down the road and pitched for 1 minute against 30 other teams in the hopes of being one of the 15 chosen by mentors to proceed in the competition as a semi-finalist. I was fortunate to be chosen and got to meet the other semifinalists including Tom Oxley, who happens to be a friend of a friend and working on a project that would integrate well with ours: a brain-controller for people with paralysis.
It was so inspiring to hear all the pitches of the entrepreneurs choosing to start companies that could impact people’s lives in such positive ways.
We participated in Tech23, Australia’s premium pitching competition. I went in with no expectations. I just wanted to put the company out there a little bit – let the rest of the world know what we were doing. After pitching in the morning, I spent most of the day talking to some really cool people including Brendan Lewis who runs Churchill Club, Ben Levi who co-founded Fishburners, Andrew Birt who co-founded LIFX and Scott Julian, who founded Effective Measure. And demonstrating the arm to everyone who would listen.
I hoped that we would win something. A little prize would be nice, I thought. I was flabbergasted when we won the major prize, the Innovation Excellence Award, as well as 4 others! This was our prize haul:
Innovation Excellence Award
ATP Innovations Explorer Award
Meeting with Susan Wu
ThoughtWorks Getting Stuff Done Award
The New Agency Best Growth Hacking and Boot-Strapping Prize
Thank you Tech23 for the opportunity, Rachael Slattery and all the prize donors and supporters of the event. We look forward to redeeming our prizes and adding even more value to our robotic arms!
We worked really hard to generate good results for the day and were pleased to show a prototype, videos of the arm’s intended movements and the arm lifting weights.
Less than a week later, on 15 October, all the Melbourne Accelerator teams flew to Sydney to meet with investors during the day (including Blackbird Ventures), before pitching to a roomful of investors that night at Google’s new Sydney offices. Thank you MAP for the camaraderie, the office space and the support.
It was great to catch up with old friends such as the Australian Quadriplegic Association (AQA) and the Austin Health Victoria and meet new friends, such as the Princess Alexandra Hospital Brisbane. I enjoyed meeting the OTs over dinner. They told me about their jobs and I told them about and showed them pictures of the arm.
I particularly enjoyed Dr Trevor Russell’s keynote on tele rehabilitation, John Walsh’s presentation on his work with the NDIS, the individuals who shared their stories about managing their disabilities, and the OTs who had done research posters on using smartphone and common technologies to help manage disabilities.
It was insightful to learn so many new ideas in the disabilities space all at once.
Learn more about ANZSCoS at their website: http://www.dcconferences.com.au/anzscos2013/
This week in the 2Mar world, on 2 July, we moved into the Melbourne Accelerator Program offices at the University of Melbourne. On our first day of moving into the offices, we had our arm do a victory dance (of sorts). Note that it’s being controlled by an iPad! Check it out here.
We were so excited when we had our arm do that. We were like, “let’s put this on Facebook. It will totally go viral!” It didn’t. But we still think it’s awesome. 🙂