QaylTech: Armenian company to help people with disabilities walk again using VR
YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 28, ARMENPRESS. The first ever Armenian company specializing in building and producing innovative rehabilitation devices – QaylTech - is developing a new VR equipment designed for people with disabilities.
QaylTech’s upcoming Qaylaber device will be available for military veterans with disabilities.
The company showcased this innovation at the Dubai Expo 2020.
After the 2016 April War, a group of Armenian kinesiologists teamed up and started to voluntarily work with military servicemen who suffered disabilities. As a result of many years of work, the specialists realized that Armenia lacks the required quantity of rehabilitation devices and personally initiated production. This is how QaylTech was launched.
QaylTech founder Davit Arsenyan told ARMENPRESS that each device was created upon necessity. He said that people with disabilities who are unable to walk potentially develop more than 30 diseases and conditions – the prevention of which is incomparably more effective than treatment.
Together with his team, Arsenyan had numerous successful results at the hospital after the 2016 war, but then they faced a problem. When the time came for the patient to leave the hospital and go home, their inability to walk and subsequent sedentary lifestyle lead to health problems. In order to help the patients in preventing this, Arsenyan and his team created the devices. Even in seemingly hopeless cases the veterans are able to walk again thanks to the dedicated work of QaylTech.
“We had a patient, Hovo. During the war he was shot in the head by sniper fire. 45% of his brain was removed, including the brain’s language center. Everyone thought Hovo was never going to speak again,” Arsenyan said.
But one day, a remarkable event happened.
Arsenyan says he was walking down the hospital corridor to the patient’s room while quietly singing a song – Getashen – a patriotic song popular among the military. Singing a verse from the song, Arsenyan entered Hovo’s room, and to everyone’s awe Hovo continued the verse. “We all froze for a moment. Then I found out that Getashen was the song of his company in the army. We researched and realized that this happened due to brain plasticity. The function of the damaged center is being assumed by the function of the neighboring healthy center. This led me to start working as founder of QaylTech,” Arsenyan said.
Arsenyan says they’ve worked with veterans having the most serious brain damage. Even when they would send test results to various hospitals around the world, they would say ‘the patient won’t survive, even if he does, he will be in a vegetative state’. But now, not only did the patients survive, but they are also walking and speaking.
In 2018 QaylTech made its first exoskeleton model and went on to perfect it in the next years. Because of the difficult and time-consuming nature of creating the exoskeleton, simultaneously they began to design and develop other equipment, namely the Qaylaber – a walk simulator device, a verticalizer, a tilt-bed, a standing-frame wheelchair, electric-powered wheelchair with the capacity of 30 km/h speed.
Now, QaylTech is developing the Walk Simulator Device called Qaylaber.
“The person who is unable to walk stands on the device and starts operating it with arms and legs. The device is equipped with sensors, again produced by QaylTech, which is connected to a virtual reality headset. Through the sensors and goggles the patients appears in virtual reality where they can walk, and do their everyday activities. For example, they can play football or skiing games with virtual reality,” Arsenyan explained.
With the Skiing VR game, QaylTech wants to hold world cyber-sport tournaments for people with disabilities. The people with disabilities from all over the world will be able to come together through ZOOM, Skype or Viber, see each other in virtual reality.
Both the device and the idea are unprecedented.
Moreover, the device will contribute to preventing the diseases which could be caused by sedentary lifestyle. QaylTech plans to provide the device to military veterans with disabilities.
The QaylTech devices are successfully used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and at the same time the experts are working to perfect the equipment.
“The cost of the VR-game devices could be rather high, but I am trying to find the means wherever I can,” he added.
QaylTech is cooperating with various charitable organizations in order to make the products accessible for veterans and others in need.
Arsenyan says it takes 4 to 5 years for a startup to start making income. Speaking of funding, Arsenyan noted the first investment they got; it was a 6 million dram investment from the Ministry of High-Tech Industry.
“Perhaps there will be some who will say that I am making money by using soldiers. I don’t like to speak about this topic, I will simply say that I haven’t taken and I will not take any money from any soldier. But on the other hand, people should realize that if this all wasn’t a business it would simply die. This is how our devices reach hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and we always invest the company’s profit in the development of technologies,” Arsenyan said.
The QaylTech founder added that they want to restore and develop the once-industrial potential of Armenia.
He further added that Armenia cannot be a market for their products, thus they want to access the international arena, and they already have the pre-requisites for this – internationally certified, high-quality equipment with competitive price.
Arsenyan said he wants to launch a crowd-funding next year.
Interview by Karine Terteryan
Photos by Gevorg Perkuperkyan