Healthy people can hardly imagine what it is like to be immobile and have to sit in a wheelchair. It is especially difficult for those who cannot move their mobile vehicle manually. As then they are always dependent on the help of others. This is unpleasant, uncomfortable and stigmatizing. The start-up company Munevo has designed a unique Smartglass application that enables wheelchair users to control their wheelchairs by moving their head. A huge gain in autonomy and consequently a higher quality of life for those affected. Thanks to the application, they are able to become a bit more free and independent again. A further bonus is that the innovative control system is now covered by health insurance funds.
Claudiu Leverenz, CEO & Co-Founder of Munevo, in an interview with Innovation Origins
How did you come up with the idea to found Munevo?
The idea for Munevo was born during a university course as part of the Information Systems Masters program taught by Prof. Krcmar at the TU Munich, TUM. Here we were tasked with finding a solution which uses smart glasses so as to have a positive impact on mobility.
One of the students on the team had done his community service at a home. He had a lot of contact with wheelchair users there. This gave rise to the idea of developing a Google Glass App that would have a positive impact on the mobility of those affected.
Over the course of the design, we included wheelchair users in the design process. We were able to design a product that was tailored precisely to the needs of the users thanks to their feedback.
What makes the product special compared to other products?
Munevo DRIVE is easily customizable within 20 seconds, offers many features and has a less stigmatizing appearance than the current alternatives.
What was the biggest hurdle you have had to initially overcome?
Getting approval for the medical device. This was very complex and involved a number of actions, including a clinical study at the Rechts der Isar Clinic in Munich.
Was there a moment when you wanted to give up?
No, the team and the user queries always keeps us motivated. The happy faces of users when they tested our application, that they originally thought was impossible to use, provided us with much more encouragement.
What was the best moment for you when it came to founding the company, what made you particularly proud?
The first-ever health insurance reimbursement. This is when we realized that we had made it.
What can we look forward to in the next few years, in other words: What can we expect from you in the coming years?
Faster reimbursement to purchasers so that users do not have to wait so long for their assistive devices
What drives you every morning?
The fact that there are still a lot of people who really need our help.
What is your vision: Where do you see your company in 5 years time and what is your ultimate goal?
Our goal is to develop a daily assistant that will make users more independent and relieve the burden on family and care. Because:
“We want to help people with disabilities live independently with the use of smart technology.”