Equipping an industry with modern tools and technology is the ambition of most entrepreneurs; be the first one to provide the solution to a problem or make something better than what is available in the market today and you are well on your way to a successful business.
Most entrepreneurs don’t wake up with that solution; it is often a journey filled with lots of questioning, testing, researching, evaluating, troubleshooting, re-testing, a multitude of sleepless nights and many long hours. To sum it all up; it is commitment beyond belief and rarely is a business idea just a haphazard notion out of nowhere.
When I meet successful entrepreneurs, I am usually most impressed by their fortitude; that strength of mind and guts that it took to start a business. Looking in Medicine Hat, Alberta, I found that business and the entrepreneurs behind it who invited me to visit and conduct a short interview.
It is a company with a technology solution that is, as the name suggests, on the “move” to grow and expand. When I first heard about Kinetisense, I was probably most intrigued by the business name and the meaning behind the name. Kinetisense derived from the word “kinetic” (the adjective form of the word) actually originates from the Greek word κίνησις kinesis, which means "motion".
Kinetisense was founded in 2012 but really began operating in 2014. The two founding entrepreneurs, Dr. Ryan Comeau and Mr. David Schnare were onto something when they began talking about how they could incorporate technology into current techniques used in physical rehabilitation and fitness assessment. The commonly used tools in the industry, which have been around for decades; the goniometer and inclinometer are really difficult to use and do not always provide the most accurate measurements and results that a health care practitioner, trainer or coach would need for an accurate assessment. This drove Comeau and Schnare to investigate how their technology solution could be used to improve that assessment process.
Dr. Ryan Comeau, a Doctor of Chiropractic, in Medicine Hat and Mr. David Schnare an Information Technology Specialist actually met at a local tennis club and soon after, started exploring a partnership on how they could work together to develop this technology solution. David started the initial testing stages by applying as a Microsoft developer to get access to the Kinect software. To develop their product, David and Ryan partnered with a Microsoft MVP development team in Athens, Greece. The team in Greece created the initial prototype. They then validated their technology by comparing Kinetisense to the Vicon system in a University biomechanics lab under the direction of Parkinson’s Researcher, Dr. Jon Doan.
Using the technology of the Microsoft Kinect camera (which was originally designed for gaming) and the patented software methods by Kinetisense, they would collect data on human biomechanics or range-of-motion and posture and the second module was functional movement. They would then analyze the data and used that data to identify appropriate treatments and overall patient progress over a period of time. Dr. Comeau’s original concept and idea, coupled with David’s expertise and contacts in the technology industry allowed them to pull together a team that included a senior developer in Greece who specialized in working with the Microsoft Kinect sensor.
Please review the following video link “Revolutionizing Rehabilitation with the Help of Kinect, Azure and Cloud”
By the beginning of 2014, Kinetisense developed version 1 and celebrated their first commercial sale of the product. The product continued to evolve as both Comeau and Schnare listened to the market needs and developed a second product that would complement the first, and this second product focused on functional movement.
The Kinetisense product has taken the market by storm. Kinetisense has been available on the Microsoft store for just over a year and this has now opened up access to a multitude of users worldwide. The product is now being used by practitioners from multiple disciplines, chiropractors’, physiotherapists, registered massage therapists, medical doctors, athletic trainers, orthopedic surgeons, dentists (neuro muscular, posture component) and that market is continuing to grow. The Kinetisense product is also being used as a research tool because it is portable, convenient to use and is readily available.
Benefits to the practitioner mean that assessments are done in real time, and patients can see the results and receive immediate feedback. Practitioners can take video and still shots and then can use these to create a report, communicate with others in the industry (for example insurance providers who might use the information to validate claims as a result of injuries). This immediate feedback to patients has been invaluable and is leading to positive patient participation as patients who see results quickly are much more motivated to follow their corrective action plan.
Kinetisense received federal grant support through the National Research Council and provincial grants with the help of Alberta Innovates in 2013. This funding was used to help accelerate the commercialization of their technology solutions. In accessing the Alberta Innovates Micro-voucher and Voucher programs, Kinetisense was able to execute on their intellectual property strategy for global protection of their technology. Alberta Innovates also supported Kinetisense with their Commercialization Associates Program, which provided a resource to support marketing efforts for a 6 month period. This funding and support has been instrumental in helping Kinetisense access new markets, obtain exposure to Alberta government connections and to develop the product further. This is all good news for our region as Kinetisense will continue to provide employment opportunities for this region and grow its local team.
When I asked Kinetisense to describe what some of their biggest hurdles were, they described that the initial selling process and getting their product to market was a challenge. They were so heavily invested in the product development and innovation pieces in the beginning, that it left them limited time for marketing and sales activities.
Now that Kinetisense is looking at global distribution and strategic partnerships they are focused on how they can continue to grow their global recognition, consumer confidence and consumer validation in those new markets.
When I asked Kinetisense to provide 3 pieces of advice to entrepreneurs starting out today here is the information they had to share:
1) Be careful that you take time to research and understand important things like costs and time as these were the things that they did underestimate in the early stages of their business.
2) Ensure you have a solid plan, and obtain sound financial support and expertise.
3) Create and maintain a good team as this will be critical for your business as it grows.
You can visit their website at: kinetisense.com/
This story was written by Elizabeth Blair. Elizabeth is the regional innovation network (RIN) coordinator at Community Futures Entre-Corp and works to oversee activities with APEX. APEX is a Regional Innovation Network that supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.
APEX is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp Business Development, Medicine Hat College; and Alberta Innovates. APEX strives to support local entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized enterprises to develop and adopt new technologies, commercialize innovative new products, improve productivity, and get connected to Alberta’s Innovation System.