We talked to Miri Berger, founder of 6Degrees, about smart technology, and this is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Miri Berger: This past year has been challenging in ways we didn’t know before. I’m grateful my family members are healthy and we’re thankful to already have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded 6Degrees.
Miri Berger: I founded 6Degrees together with my husband Aryeh. The story of 6Degrees started when I was 19 and met Aryeh after he sustained an injury during his military service. As Aryeh went through the process of rehabilitation, he experienced new difficulties in his ability to function independently. Due to his injury, the sense of inability to perform actions he used to perform, and the adaptation needed to his new reality made us think about how to utilize technology to overcome the physical barriers of people with disabilities. We used our knowledge and experience as industrial designers and electrical engineers to create a motion-based, hands-free personalized controller for people who have lost their fine motor skills.
How does 6Degrees innovate?
Miri Berger: 6Degrees developed MyMove, a wearable band that enables motion-based hands-free full control over any smart device (phones, computers, etc.) replacing a finger on a touch screen or a computer mouse. MyMove adapts to personal motion and predicts user intent, opening the door to digital access and employability for people with disabilities. By adding software and VR gear, MyMove becomes a therapeutic device that monitors and encourages rehabilitation and telerehabilitation (self physiotherapy) providing real-time motion-based insights.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Miri Berger: We are fortunate to have the support of the Israel Innovation Authority to perform two beta pilots, one in collaboration with Tel Aviv municipality, integration of people with disabilities into the workforce, and the other with Sheba hospital, performing a clinical trial with amputees replacing old-fashioned mirror treatments with VR gamification and MyMove. Many aspects of our activities were affected by COVID-19, our activity slowed down, our users are at high risk and avoided leaving the house. Besides, the Principal Investigator in our clinical trial, Prof. Israel Dudkiewicz, operated in the COVID-19 department at Sheba hospital and was completely devoted to his patients.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Miri Berger: In the past year, like many others, we have had to adapt to working from home. Even though it was sometimes challenging, the team understood that our solution was now more relevant than ever. We were motivated by our users being at home, unable to communicate with the rest of the world without access to phones and computers.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Miri Berger: We learned that accessibility is very important for communication with our target audience. Our goal is to assist our users as much as possible and make sure they have a good user experience. Gaining confidence for independent use is key, MyMove is designed to be simple and intuitive but in case there is a difficulty we would like to be there.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Miri Berger: The company received grants from the Israel Innovation Authority and the European Commission (Horizon 2020) before COVID-19 and it helped in maintaining the development of the company in the past year.
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