The Braze Mobility Blog

 

News and information about mobility and blind spot sensors. Subscribe to our RSS and never miss a story.

Talk Rehab with Bill Noelting S2 Ep8

06/08/2021
Photo of Pooja Viswanathan smiling and standing beside a power wheelchair

Our CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Pooja Viswanathan was recently on the Talk Rehab Podcast with Bill Noelting where she shared her journey of building ‘smart’ wheelchair technology, the value of user feedback, and how that influences product development.

They also chat about the Braze system and how similar innovations are great for the complex rehab technology industry.

Some key takeaways:

  • Our technology prioritizes user feedback which demonstrated a preference for increase spatial awareness rather than giving up control.
  • Our product is easily customizable by the end-user, family members, therapists, and ATPs.
  • The average retail price is $2,000 to $2,500 USD and is coded K0108 or E1399.
  • Excited to have an industry veteran, Allan Boyd part of our team as the VP of Business Development.
  • Blindspot sensors are mainstream technology that is useful for every wheelchair user in order to address user needs, wheelchair design limitations, and environmental barriers.

You can listen to the episode (47 minutes) on Google PodcastsApple Podcasts, or directly at Talk Rehab Podcast.

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Academia, Diversity & the Future of CRT

04/26/2021

The future of complex seating and wheeled mobility is often described in terms of evolving or breakthrough technology. But the future of Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) will also be defined and shaped by its people and its leadership. Pooja Viswanathan, Ph.D., explains how her background in academia led to her to co-found Braze Mobility, manufacturer of blind-spot wheelchair sensors, and how her vision as a young, female CEO is impacting Braze Mobility and perhaps CRT as a whole.

Read more here.

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Photo of Antoinette Brokopp smiling

ATP Spotlight: Antoinette Brokopp

04/12/2021

What’s your name, the company you represent and where are you located?

Antoinette Brokopp OTR/L, ATP. I work for Reliable Medical Supply. Our local office is in Fort Thomas Kentucky. I work from my home office between Cincinnati and Dayton, OH.

How long have you been an ATP?

I became an ATP in 2018.

What do you enjoy most about being an ATP?

I love being an ATP because it provides me the tools to help people have comfort and mobility to be more independent, more comfortable, and live a more satisfying life. Being an Occupational Therapist blend well with this role because that’s what we’re all about.

My favorite part of being an ATP is being involved with the delivery or seeing my client after they get their equipment and seeing how life-changing my contribution to their care can be.

What benefits have you seen from your clients that use the Braze Mobility sensor system?

I have used the Braze system in a few cases. In one, I had a client who had CP (Cerebral Palsy), but then had a CVA (Cerebrovascular Accident), and became dependent on a power chair.

He was really good about driving but had no sense of what was behind his chair. He was at risk of losing his ability to drive safely, but adding a Sentina to the back of his chair was all the difference he needed.

I have seen clients have greater confidence learning to use their chairs because they didn’t have to worry about unknowingly getting too close to walls and doorways.

In other cases, clients who had been bedridden for long periods, and had to develop the attention span to learn to successfully operate a power chair benefitted greatly from the sensory input provided by the Braze system.

I love how individualized and targeted the system can be and Pooja and the Braze Mobility team are amazing to work with. It’s wonderful being able to design a system with a specific client in mind.

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Seasoned CRT executive joins Braze Mobility as Vice President of Business Development to grow sales and partnerships

03/31/2021

TORONTO, ON – March 31, 2021 – The team at Braze Mobility, a company that’s created the world’s first blind spot sensors that can be added to any wheelchair transforming it into a ‘smart wheelchair’, is excited to announce that Allan Boyd, a seasoned Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) industry leader, is joining as Vice President of Business Development. Boyd will leverage his established relationships and experience within the industry to lead Braze Mobility’s business development strategy and support their mission of helping millions of wheelchair users around the world navigate boldly, independently, and safely.

Boyd brings with him over 25 years of experience in CRT. He served as the General Manager at Permobil Canada from 2010 to 2020, where he built and established the company’s presence throughout the country. Prior to Permobil, he managed Invacare Corporation’s seating division. He also worked as Director of Operations at Special Health Systems and was a partner at Motion Concepts, both of which were acquired by Invacare.

“I am thrilled to have Allan on our team,” said Pooja Viswanathan, CEO, and co-founder of Braze Mobility. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for not only his experiences and what he has accomplished in the industry, but also for his hunger to keep learning and staying abreast of the latest innovations. In fact, I met Allan because of a research-industry partnership while I was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and he was managing Permobil Canada. The timing of Allan’s onboarding could not be better as we at Braze Mobility prepare to accelerate our growth in North America and overseas.”

Since launching in 2016, Braze Mobility’s blind spot sensor systems have been transforming the lives of wheelchair users. The system mounts on any powered or manual wheelchair, automatically detecting obstacles and providing feedback to the user through intuitive lights, sounds, and vibrations. By providing alerts and leaving the user fully in control, the system maximizes user independence and freedom, while improving safety.

“I met Pooja in 2014, and have watched her create Braze Mobility from years of clinical research, and evidence,” Boyd said. “Sharing the same client-focused core values, I’m excited to be part of a team bringing this innovative technology that the majority of us take for granted in the vehicles we drive every day, to wheelchairs. I’m equally excited in what lies ahead, as Braze Mobility has many more technical innovations in development.”

Braze Mobility blind spot sensor systems are available for purchase globally starting at $1,655 US MSRP. For more information visit: www.brazemobility.com

About Braze Mobility: Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the company was founded by Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, who has incorporated over a decade of smart wheelchair research into state-of-the-art technology that improves accessibility and independence for people with physical disabilities.

Braze Mobility is dedicated to increasing independence, safety, and overall quality of life for people living with mobility challenges. We engage with end-users throughout the design process to create accessible and innovative technologies that are affordable and easy to use.

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Digital healthcare start-ups building solutions for aging adults to watch for 2021

03/08/2021

Read the full story on Hospital News:

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AARP & Mass Challenge Safe and Effective Aging in Place Challenge

02/01/2021

The Innovation Challenges are designed to showcase startups at the forefront of AgeTech, with solutions that empower people to choose how they live as they age. The Challenges have included digital learning for older adults, fraud and personal security, and entertainment, among others. See below for a complete list of Challenges and descriptions.

We’re embarking on a global search for solutions that help people age in place more effectively and safely.  

Congratulations to our winners!
Challenge Winner:
 Minka Homes & Communities
Audience Choice: Braze Mobility Inc.
Challenge Finalists: BeeyonderCurieAiEmPowerYuThrive Community Inc.

Read more here.

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Meet the Finalists of CABHI’s MC² Market Readiness Program

01/12/2021

In August 2020, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) launched a Call for Innovations for its Mentorship, Capital and Continuation (MC2) program, presented in partnership with National Bank. MCMarket Readiness sought early-stage companies creating solutions for aging adults in the healthtech space. The program addresses critical innovation gaps, not only by providing early-stage companies with direct access to two leading global accelerators, CABHI and Berkeley SkyDeck, but also by helping companies unlock funding to achieve their specific business milestones.

More than 50 companies applied, which indicates a thriving Ontario healthtech sector invested in building solutions for aging adults. Given that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on older adults’ lives, it is encouraging to see the scope of companies tackling these needs in-depth.

Semi-finalists were invited to pitch last autumn, and now CABHI is proud to announce the program’s six winning companies. They are currently (and virtually) participating in Berkeley SkyDeck, which offers access to the Silicon Valley ecosystem and a Pitch Showcase event, at which CABHI’s innovators may have the opportunity to pitch their solution to world-leading investors, buyers, industry leaders, and advisors. Typically, two out of every three companies that participate in this Pitch Showcase receive venture funding to scale and grow.

Read the entire article here https://www.cabhi.com/blog/meet-the-finalists-of-cabhis-2020-mc%C2%B2-market-readiness-program/

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Our Top 5 Accessibility-Themed Holiday Gifts

Accessible Holiday Gifts for 2020!

12/08/2020

As the snow begins to fly, and holiday music is playing on every radio station, there is no avoiding that the holidays are here! We have made a holiday gift guide with the perfect gifts for your friends & family who use a wheelchair. Keep them safe and happy this holiday season with Braze Mobility’s accessible holiday gifting guide! 

We have not tested these products for their usability, and advise that you do due diligence before purchase. 

  1. Access Masks ($21 CAD)

These face masks made by the Como foundation, make communication accessible to all through the use of a window in the face shield. This allows for easy lip reading for the hard of hearing, and can help people with speech difficulties communicate all while staying safe behind a mask. The fun colours and designs mean you can choose the perfect mask for your friend or loved one, and maybe for yourself as well to make the world a little more accessible! 

  1. Fun seat covers ($48 USD)

This website offers lots of wheelchair cushion covers in fun designs- with over 20 fabrics to choose from you can find the perfect one for a gift! The website custom makes them to fit any wheelchair, or if you are feeling crafty you could visit your local fabric store and make your own!

  1. Light up wheels ($39 USD)

These castor wheels are self-powered (meaning no need for battery replacements!) and will make a disco-party wherever you and your friend go! They come in a variety of sizes on the website. 

  1. The Braze Sentina
A photo of the Braze Mobility Sentina sensor

The Braze Sentina is a blind spot sensor system that can turn any wheelchair into a “smart” wheelchair. These add-on devices easily attach to any wheelchair and offer visual, audio, and vibrational feedback to wheelchair users regarding the location and proximity of obstacles. They provide the freedom of improved maneuverability, increased spatial awareness, and increased safety.

More information about the Braze Sentina can be found here!

  1. Umbrella holder ($17 CAD)

Depending on where you live, it’s hard to escape the rain. Even harder is having enough hands to steer/propel a wheelchair and hold an umbrella! With the gift of this umbrella holder, every time your friend or relative stays dry in the rain, they will think of you and your awesome gifting skills! 

Do you have any other accessibility gift ideas that you think would make someone’s holiday? Let us know in the comments!

From all of us at Braze Mobility, have a very safe and happy holiday season!

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BMO Announces 10 Recipients of $100,000 Grant Program for Women-Owned Businesses

11/19/2020

To mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, BMO Financial Group today announced the ten recipients of its $100,000 grant program. As part of its longstanding commitment to helping the advancement of women, the new grant program celebrates Canadian women business owners’ innovation and resilience during the pandemic.

To assist with the grant recipient selection process, BMO collaborated with key strategic partners to establish an advisory committee and judging panel consisting of leaders from GroYourBiz, Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), Women Get On Board, Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, and Deloitte.

Each business will receive $10,000 and have the opportunity to receive ongoing support through one of the bank’s partners, including a one-year membership with a peer advisory group for women business owners and a one-year certification with Women Business Enterprise Canada.

The BMO Celebrating Women 2020 Grant Recipients are:

  • Ayanna Lee Rivears, Socacize Fitness: Socacize Fitness is a creative blend of Caribbean and African dance techniques, with effective fitness movements.
  • Dr. Irit Van-Ham and Dr. Monika Yazdanian, ToeFX Inc.: Founded by two scientists, ToeFX is driven by innovation with a vision to create the world’s most effective foot care treatments.
  • Kim Knight and Shanelle McKenzie, The Villij: The Villij creates an inclusive, accessible, and nurturing community for women of colour to connect, heal and expand. It provides health and wellness services, including yoga, meditation, walking clubs, conversations, and workshops.
  • Meghan Peters and Kristin Verbeek, Lathered Cleaning Company Inc.: Established in 2013, Lathered Cleaning uses only natural cleaning products and is dedicated to giving time back safely and effectively to other busy people.
  • Pam Fanjoy, Fan/Joy: Chef Pam’s culinary passion has led her to create a line of Gourmet To Go prepared meals, the junior chef culinary and life skills programs and the youth-run café and marketplace to help improve the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of local youths and families.
  • Pooja Rao, got BALLZ Inc.: With a goal to produce high quality products, made with the utmost care from locally sourced ingredients, got BALLZ re-invents snacks and foods we love with a healthy twist.
  • Pooja Viswanathan, Braze Mobility Inc.: Braze Mobility has developed the world’s first blind-spot sensor system for wheelchairs, which automatically detects obstacles and provides multi-modal alerts (visual, vibration, and/or audio feedback) to the driver.
  • Rebecca Taylor, Ready to go Foods Inc.: With a passion for cooking and Caribbean flavours, Ready to go Foods allows those with busy lifestyles to enjoy healthy, Caribbean flavoured meals in their own kitchen.
  • Robyn Ledoux, A Touch of Health: Launched in 2009, A Touch of Health began as a simple one-woman massage therapy clinic. Since then, the business has grown to employ 10 people and has diversified to include a health food café, A Taste of Health.
  • Shehreen Zaman, Math Project: Math Project offers students the opportunity to strengthen their math skills through on-site and online interactive sessions with a qualified team of tutors.

“A large part of supporting the advancement of women is celebrating the contributions made by women leaders, entrepreneurs and mentors in local communities,” said Erminia (Ernie) Johannson, Group Head, North American Personal and Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. “We’re proud to recognize these women and their ability to innovate in their businesses and persevere during this difficult time. Congratulations to this year’s honourees on all their achievements.”

Since its inception in 2012, BMO Celebrating Women has honoured more than 180 women in communities across Canada and the United States. In addition to the new grant program, BMO has developed programs and invested in solutions to support women entrepreneurs. The bank committed to making $3 billion in capital available to women-owned businesses across Canada over three years, has embedded diversity-focused procurement programs, and has created a new women’s business directory.

“These women – who have clearly demonstrated unrelenting drive and resilience throughout this last year – are essential not only to our economy, but to the future of Canada; their achievements cannot be overstated,” said Linda Blair, Managing Partner, Ontario, Deloitte Canada. “Deloitte is proud to assist BMO in recognizing the value of these entrepreneurs, to elevate their success, and to help them thrive at every step along the way.”

To learn more about the grant recipients and BMO Celebrating Women, visit bmoforwomen.com and join the social conversation using #BMOforWomen.

https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/bmo-announces-10-recipients-of-100-000-grant-program-for-women-owned-businesses-880466698.html

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TTC Bus with the Braze Mobility branding on it

Accessible Transit: the What, Where & How of Wheel-Trans!

09/03/2020

I took my first Wheel-Trans trip this past weekend, and had the chance to discuss the pros and cons of the system with someone who has much more experience with it than I do. I will share some of those thoughts with you, and hope to hear your opinion as well! Have you used Wheel-Trans or a similar service? Leave a comment below about your experience and let’s start a conversation about what is working well and how we can improve accessible transit.

Check out our blog post on accessible subway transit!

What?

Wheel-Trans provides door-to-door transit service in Toronto for people who have a disability that prevents them from using the wider TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) transit system. This includes both temporary and permanent disabilities. If you are unable to use any conventional TTC transit, or are unable to access certain services offered by the TTC you may be eligible for Wheel-Trans services. For example, if you are able to use the subway but the location you need to go is close to an inaccessible subway station, you may be eligible for Wheel-Trans for all or part of that trip. To apply for Wheel-trans, click here.

The service is available 24h a day, 7 days a week and costs the same as a standard TTC fare.

Where?

Anywhere the TTC goes, Wheel-Trans offers a door-to-door service.

How?

In order to book Wheel-Trans service, you can either call (416-393-4222), book online, or use their automated phone booking service (416-397-8000). Bookings can be made 7 days in advance, but must be made at least 4 hours prior to departure (between 5AM and 11PM). The driver will pick you up from your home, and will drop you off at the designated location. The driver will help you to enter and exit the vehicle and safely strap your mobility device in. If you require additional support during your trip, bring a support person free of charge with a Support Person Assistance Card.

What TTC is killin’ it on!

  • Wheel-Trans is growing! The government just announced a $41 million investment in the service. This will provide 120 new accessible busses, create 18 new access hubs, as well as improving the digital presence of Wheel-Trans, and making booking easier!
  • Wheel-Trans provided 4.1 Million rides in 2017
  • You might be traveling on a Wheel-Trans bus, or a contracted accessible taxi- all for the price of a standard TTC fare! Typically the system is fairly direct from origin to destination. 
  • Travel between Toronto and other transit regions is made easier by agreements made with Durham, York and Peel Region

Areas that can be improved:

  • Booking can be difficult over the phone. This is recognized as an issue by TTC, and they have begun to offer alternative services, such as an automated booking line and online booking. Phone services could still be improved though. 
  • The booking system is not good at determining optimized routes for the busses. Often, people traveling from the same location get sent separate busses, which adds unnecessary strain on wheel trans resources.
  • When busses are running late, and or trips have been cancelled, the Wheel-Trans staff often call last minute, causing stress for the person relying on the ride.

Contact Wheel-Trans:

Booking: 416-393-4222
Priority line: 416-393-4111
TTC customer service: 416-393-3030
Eligability: WTEligibility@ttc.ca
Customer Service:  wtcs@ttc.ca 
More information:
http://www.ttc.ca/PDF/Wheel-Trans/Wheel-Trans_services_summary.pdf

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