From Bionic Limbs to Bionic Gaming

Friday, June 14, 2019

helllloooooAn Augmented Future

When we started Brink Bionics out of the Engineering Bionics Lab at the University of Waterloo, our goal was to develop. Our long term mission - to make bionic enhancement a reality, creating a world in which the ambitious of us could step into a clinic and walk out with a new pair of bionic arms or legs that are stronger and faster than our natural bodies could ever be. Or a neural interface that allows you to control a computer or an extra body part with your neural pathways.

The current prosthetic technology was a long way off from this future, and is inching closer. But we didn't want to inch closer to this future, we wanted to sprint towards it like the 6 Million Dollar Man.

The Need for Speed

The capital costs required to sprint towards that future we large, and felt insurmountable. The MPL prosthesis, considered one of the most advanced bionic limbs in the world, is a marvel of engineering. The development of which was funded with 120 million USD. This is the kind of money needed to build tech that can just match what our bodies do so easily. On top of this, there were already so many amazing companies building advanced, affordable bionic arms, that it felt like if we weren't going to move fast, then we were doing what everyone else was already doing. The slow moving nature of medical devices, approval processes, and for prosthetics, the small market size relative to the number of competitors made us re-think our strategy.

We wanted to be in a place where we could move fast towards our goal of enhancing human performance using the nervous system, with a large, compelling market that would attract the interest of the kind of investments needed to reach our goals.

Gaming is a massive market, with such a high demand. We took one look at this market through the lens of our mission, and we knew this was the right path to jump to.

Taking off the blinders

The 3 founders still carry this original vision of augmenting and optimizing physical ability through the nervous system, but our approach has changed considerably.

In less than 1 year of starting down the path of building neurotech for gaming, we had our Impulse Neuro-controller technology on the hands of real users, giving us feedback on our technology. In less than 1 year after that, we will be shipping our first production version of Impulse to customers. We could not have moved this fast had we stayed with medical devices, and we have been able to develop real bionic enhancement technology in a way that no one else had done before.

In looking at the science fiction, we thought that the path of an augmented future through prosthetics was the obvious path for us. The reality is often much more interesting and unexpected. To see the path we are on now required us to take off our blinders, and see the bigger picture of what neurotech and bionic enhancement really meant, beyond the dystopian sci-fi of limb replacements and "cyberization".

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