We aim to improve balance in people with severe balance impairments to reduce falls and increase quality of life. To combat this, we have designed a ball that can be used independently or in conjunction with existing rehabilitation methods to rapidly improve balance and reduce the risk of falls.
We have a built piece of hardware medical technology that can improve balance elderly people who might be or become at risk of falls.
Our customers are primarily people over the age of 65 who have noticed a balance impairment or they are identified as likely to develop a balance problem.
There are 3 major customer segments for our team:
Elderly over 65- These people will be the direct users of the product. By 2050, over 1/4 of our population will be over 65 and will be experiencing a deterioration of the senses that inform balance. They are looking for preventative measures to prevent falls, but don't like attending group glasses because it can force them to confront their fate around very sick people, and it also forces them to admit that they have a problem with balance. Travelling to rehabilitation is not an option for everyone, particularly those who live remotely and it is costly.
Neurological disease or injury -These people will be the direct users of the product. This includes primarily people with Parkinson's disease or who have suffered a stroke. The main pain point for these users is that they will go the extra mile to get to rehabilitation (often relying on family members) by physical rehabilitation is often not fast enough to counteract the deterioration caused by their conditions.
Family of person with balance impairment - These people will benefit indirectly from the product. The major pain point for this group is feeling like there is nothing they can do, causing years of stress, until after a fall has happened and an injury has occurred where people then feel more welcome to intervene. It is always surprising how taboo the topic of deteriorating balance and falls risk is within families.
In many ways, the status quo of not doing anything until the problem presents itself in the form of a fall or a close call, is the greatest challenge for our solution to overcome, rather than a distinct competitor. This product has been designed to be used in conjunction with existing therapies and not designed to replace it. Such therapies include:
- Physical exercise (like regular walking)
- Fitness classes (like yoga and tai chi)
Given the size of the problem, and the potential this solution has, we would like to see this tool reaching tens (even hundreds) of thousands of Australians. We have incredible potential for growth, we are not just building a piece of technology, we want to create a community and a culture around it. It will not be enough for us if people just buy our product, we want to see them use it.
We will launch in Australia, with a focus on saturating the rehabilitation market on the east coast. If the inital release is successful and we have good uptake with health care professionals, we would like to expand into Asian markets, like Japan, where their rapidly ageing population is a large risk to their economy and people are needing to work later in life.
In Parkinson’s disease, people can have a constant lean because their body has trouble sensing where it is in space. The great neurologist Oliver Sacks saw this in one man, and put a little spirit level on his reading glasses. This rapidly reduced the man’s falls. We have observed a desperate need for a better way to train balance and that sense of where people are in space in order to prevent falls and improve quality of life, and we have created a simple solution, Equilibri Balance Ball. The Balance Ball adds a new dimension to balance training using neuroplasticity. Instead of forcing you to compensate for your balance impairment, the Buzz Balance Ball will give your brain a new source of information to help train your failing sense.
Customers, such as those at risk of falls and their families, will be able to find our product in an online store that can be delivered to their homes. They will be able to download the accompanying app to their mobile devices or access it via their desktop computers. They may hear about the venture while searching for balance devices online, by a recommendation from their healthcare professional or from success stories that are shared on social media. The company will also run social initiatives aimed at raising awareness of falls prevention, using profits to give back to the community.
Hayley is just completing her PhD in the physiotherapy department at the University of Canberra. Her thesis looks at how the senses that inform balance deteriorate in Parkinson's disease and in older age, and how these senses can be trained. David is a robotics engineer, completing his PhD at the University of Canberra. Together we have already built a working prototype of the balance ball device, and are planning to conduct clinical trials in the near future to measure it's effectiveness. Our connections in the rehabilitation field give us a competitive advantage, but our biggest advantage is our product itself. We have designed this product based on the science, to serve a need in the community that is clear to both of us. We are deeply passionate about the project, and both plan to use our skills to create technology that makes the world a healthier, cleaner and more equitable place for as long as we are able.
In order to make our venture a reality, we would really like to connect with some forward thinking industrial and graphic designers, who can help our venture and product look as exciting as it's potential is. We also require as much advice as possible regarding intellectual property, manufacture and online retailing.
We have a very clear set of steps for the next 12 months, when we will hope to secure seed investment and progress to manufacturing. We have created a working prototype by securing grants with no equity attached or bootstrapping, and we are in the process of filing for a provisional patent. The main costs facing us are:
Realistically, we would need $10,000 in the IACT pool to get all the agreements and approvals in place to move our business forwards. We will plan for a way to bring on board a clinical trials coordinator at a reduced cost or through using a new source of grant funding. Once all of this is in place, we will have enough intellectual property and it will be protected enough for us to bring on investors.
We have actively engaged with many clinicians across the ACT, NSW and VIC, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists and medical doctors. We will engage with the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Parkinson's ACT and Parkinson's Australia, Shake It Up Australia, Falls Prevention Australia and later in life education programs. These groups have provide invaluable insight into what people suffering from balance deterioration really need and they have helped us create a product that is entirely built around the end user.
We would also like to engage more closely with insurance companies, in the hope we can partner to bring our products to people at a reduced cost.
Our customer segment is huge. The senses that inform our balance naturally begin to deteriorate after the age of 65. Even earlier than this, we can be afflicted with a neurological disease or injury, like stroke, Parkinson's disease or traumatic brain injury. Anyone who has impaired balance would be able to use this device.
The device is bought as a one-off payment, with the option of subscribing to use the accompanying app which prescribes movements and exercises using the devices, and helps you to track and share your progress. We have found people are generally willing to pay between $150 and $300 per device, with those who have had a loved one affected by falls willing to pay more than people who hadn't. We found for people who knew how important falls prevention is first hand, the price could be even higher.