#3 – Augmenting the lives of paraplegics with exoskeletons – Tristan Vouga – Twiice
Wearables bringing back the ability to walk for paraplegics: this is the world in which Tristan Vouga is evolving.
Passionate by the field of robotics and willing to have an impact on society, he turned his PhD thesis into the Swiss startup Twiice.
The company is developing a modular exoskeleton, bringing back the ability for its users to stand, walk, climb stairs and even go on a ski tour!
Beyond the technological achievement and the numerous awards it has won in international contests, their platform has the potential to transform the lives of many paraplegics as well as amputees.
We talked with Tristan about his transition from PhD student to entrepreneur, about their exoskeleton capabilities, the feelings of “ownership, embodiement and agency” that are key to a seamless human-machine interaction, and about how innovation can be derived from science-fiction!
- (01:44): Tristan’s introduction and background in wearable robotics
- (03:22): Moving to the US to explore brain-controlled exoskeletons
- (08:10): Description of the exoskeleton Twiice, how it operates and supports paraplegics
- (10:52): The importance of embodiment, ownership and agency in human-machine interactions
- (12:42): Leveraging brain signals to control wearable exoskeletons
- (14:03): Generating haptic feedback to enhance the feelings of ownership, embodiment and agency
- (15:57): Developing an exoskeleton for ski touring
- (18:38): Exploring new use cases for amputees
- (21:01): Innovative commercial models to distribute the cost of ownership among patients
- (22:59): A clinical trial to demonstrate the efficacy and safety of Twiice in a community setting
- (24:29): Seamless human-machine interaction as a key differentiator
- (26:16): Moving towards an exoskeleton not requiring crutches
- (30:20): The Cybathlon and competing against other exoskeletons
- (35:02): Dealing with the frustration of access hurdles for patients
- (36:11): Coping with the demand from patients while driving R&D efforts
- (38:17): Transitioning from PhD student to entrepreneur
- (40:18): Drawing inspiration from science-fiction
What we also talked about with Tristan:
- Duke University
- The Nicolelis Lab
- The triad: embodiment-ownership-agency
- Boston Dynamics
- The Cybathlon
- The Global Innovation Challenge
- Blade Runner
- Testmate Health
We cited with Tristan some of the past episodes from the podcast: