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Novalte

Assistive Tech: Novalte

Novalte is a company that specializes in control solutions for people with physical disabilities.

They modify complex technology and offer clients easily-accessible control solutions using the best access method to control their environment. Novalte was established by qualified engineers with over 30 years of experience in the field of Biomedical Engineering and Control Solution design. They identified the need of services and their focus is to use their experience in their interactions with these individuals to provide the best solution for their safety and independence.

Micheal Cullen
Michael Cullen, the CEO and Co-Founder of Novalte

Michael Cullen, the CEO and Co-Founder of Novalte began his career as a controls engineer – building power stations, machines and factories in Ireland. He moved to Toronto to continue his career. It  dawned onhim one day, at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas, when he saw a chap who’d had a stroke, that he knew there was something in the iPhone that could help. So, he reached out to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. He told them about his qualifications and there was a position in the Electronic Aids Daily Living – to help kids with disabilities that were non-verbal communicate using their computer and help adults live independently. Cullen worked in this position for a few years, developing customized assistive technology for patients.

Novalte – We help our clients control their everyday surroundings.

After he’d moved on from Holland Bloorview, the adult clients he’d helped at the program called him and more started calling so he began to develop products for them. He then developed Emitto Ecosystem.

“I’ve worked in the Assistive Technology field for the last decade at some of Ontario’s leading rehab hospitals for both kids and adults, helping individuals with mobility disabilities communicate, drive their wheelchairs and control their homes independently. With Emitto, I can enable clients to have greater control over their environment, and my mission is to remove barriers so everyone can access the world in which they live.”

He said, “When I was at Bloorview, these systems were over $10,000 and that wasn’t practical as they all had to be customized. I came up with a system that is easily transferrable to people with different  physical disabilities. And we were able to get the cost of the systems down because of that. We no longer had to physically modify the hardware, we just needed to change the software.”

Novalte was born in 2014, and now has eight staff. They are located at the Design Fabrication Zone at Ryerson University. The Zone specializes in fabrication start-up companies and has the space, tools and mentors they can connect with to accomplish what they are trying to do. Novalte also has a relationship with Conestoga College in Waterloo helping with product development. Michael said, “The Ontario Centres of Excellence grant we received is leveraging their technical expertise to help us further our development and we are rapidly growing. We are currently doing a pilot study with the March of Dimes to illustrate how our system helps people with disabilities by empowering them.”

What differentiates Novalte from other companies that produce/sell assistive products is that they can remotely service the Emitto Ecosystem from anywhere in the world. Novalte’s Emitto Ecosystem is a hub and everything can run through the device including smart appliances.

The most common requests for its operations are for door openers, accessible switches or Google voice. The others are for a hospital bed controller, switch or voice, and others are for controlling TV, off the shelf lights and plug sockets for fans. The current version of Emitto can run on power from a powerchair or from a plug socket. If you have manual chair you can use a portable battery pack. As needed, you can use a switch or voice control.

The price point is $3,200 for hardware and mounting, so the system is very competitive for anything like it on the market.

“There is no competitive product like ours on the market, that will do as many things,” said Michael. “Our system attaches onto a wheelchair for access, and if there is an issue, we’re able to log into the system to see what might be going on. For instance, one person hadn’t plugged the Emitto into their wheelchair, and remotely, we could detect that so they could fix the problem.”

And if needed, they Novalte has 24/7 assistance. The price point is $3,200 for hardware and mounting, so the system is very competitive for anything like it on the market. As more people purchase the product, Novalte will be able to drop the price. The Emitto Ecosystem is currently sold in southern Ontario and BC. Michael said,

Picture of Emitto device
Novalte’s Emitto Ecosystem

“In order to help reduce the cost for our community, we are expanding into ageing populations who will benefit from our product. We can currently remotely record and notify loved ones when attendants are with or not with a client. That is recorded when a Bluetooth key fob detects when they walk in. There is a system attached to theirs that can send predefined messages/notification system which is very beneficial for safety and their security of mind.

Novalte is developing extensions of its product, which is proprietary at this point. We will have to wait for updates on this.

Novalte’s products are not currently covered by ADP, but this is in the works and it will probably be available with ADP funding in the later part of this year.

For more information on Novalte and Emitto Ecosystem, please visit www.novalte.ca.

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario | Winter 2020

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