Microsoft Build—the opening keynote by CEO and Chairman, Satya Nadella, announced the final judging for the 2022 Imagine Cup global winner. After the judging, V Bionic took top honors today, May 24.
Their platform solution, ExoHeal, combines a therapeutic exoskeleton hand device with sensors, and an extensive intuitive app — that helps patients with hand paralysis to experience a faster, more comfortable, inexpensive, three-stage rehabilitation process to improve patients physical and mental health.
The V BIONIC team is achieving international recognition through competitions and award programs including Global Finalists in the Google Science Fair and Social Innovation Award winners at the Diamond Challenge, and today as World Champions of Imagine Cup as key gems in their crown towards success.
Their hard work and passion are founded on the inspiration to do more for humanity and by implementing tech-for-good.
V BIONIC FOUNDING TEAM MEMBERS
The founding team members include Microsoft: Zain Ahmed Samdani (CEO) Germany; Faria Zubair (Head of Design) Saudi Arabia; Asfia Jabeen (Operations and community engagement) Saudi Arabia; and Ramin Udash (App Developer) Germany.
Zain was born in India and brought up in Saudi Arabia. He’s now studying robotics and Intelligent systems at Jacobs University, Germany. Faria was born in India and now living in Saudi Arabia. She is studying a Bachelor of Arts at IGNOU University and is a student at UoPeople.
Microsoft Asfia was born and brought up in India and currently resides in Saudi Arabia. She has been a Science and Arts enthusiast since her childhood. She completed her bachelor’s from India and is now pursuing her master’s at the University of People, USA. Ramin Udash was born and brought up in Nepal and is currently a first-year Computer Science student at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany.
MICROSOFT IMAGINE CUP PROGRAM
Imagine Cup from its beginning engaging more than two million student competitors. In 2022, Imagine Cup, students building and learning for positive impact and innovation, involves thousands of students from more than 160 countries in the 20th annual Imagine Cup. Project four social good categories are Earth, Education, Healthcare, and Lifestyle.
V Bionic from Saudi Arabia and Germany achieved the grand prize for ExoHeal, a modular exoskeletal hand rehabilitation device that utilizes neuroplasticity and Azure technology to provide adaptive and gamified rehabilitation exercises to people with hand paralysis. The team won USD50,000 in Azure credits, a cash prize of USD100,000, and a mentoring session with Microsoft Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella.
V BIONIC TEAM MEMBER REFLECTIONS
Team member reflections and insights include Zain—“This journey has taught us the profound impact of developing a mindset that seeks to make the best out of every situation.” Faria—“Through, hard work, out of the box thinking and most importantly possessing the drive to instill a positive change has enabled us to look at our goals from various perspectives and create a solution that reflects the needs of those it caters to.”
Microsoft Asfia—“It will be an achievement even if we can change the life of one paralyzed person and their families.” Ramin believes that at ExoHeal, he is helping in the making of recovery for hand paralysis patients easy, accessible, and portable using his skill sets in app development—his coding journey starting at age 12.
V Bionic milestones include employing Microsoft Azure / solutions; 30% faster times in recovery; cost savings from the $15K the standard to under $1K for their ExoHeal solution. Their solutions incorporates a three stage rehabilitation process with deep clinician and community support with 360 accessibility via mobile.
To aid in comfort, they are targeting the fashion look and feel of a second skin replacing harder surfaces of older-style robotic engineering.
Additionally noted by the team members:
“After using ExoHeal’s therapy, patients felt sensations in their paralyzed hand on the very first day! Weeks or months faster than traditional therapy.” – Zain Ahmed Samdani, Team V Bionic.
“We make recovery more accessible for paralyzed patients by connecting them with doctors over remote distances.” – Ramin Udash, Team V Bionic.
“Using robotics, neuroscience and machine learning technologies, we hope to make hand disabilities less alarming, enable patients to regain use of their hands, return to their daily tasks, reduce their mental stress and most importantly restore self-confidence.” – Zain Ahmed Samdani, Team V Bionic.
“It is an achievement for us even if we uplift the life of a single paralyzed person. We are aiming high to help as many patients as possible to recover faster, uplift their lives and lead a normal life again. For us, success is not about how much we grow, it’s about how many people we bring up with us.” – Asfia Jabeen, Team V Bionic.
“Incorporate Fashion with STEM to create visually appealing changemaking solutions, whether it’s a prosthesis or a wearable therapeutic device or a dress which can fit all sizes and change colors as one likes.”- Faria Zubair, Team V Bionic.
V BIONIC INTERVIEW
To see, feel, and hear their energetic passion and innovation, I interviewed them today appearing with the non-profit, IEEE TEMS (interviews by Stephen Ibaraki). The interview profiles, quotes, video link, can be accessed directly here.
The themes for the interview include:
Zain inspired from a family member’s journey with hand paralysis and designing a robotics exoskeleton to assist and accelerate rehabilitation. Each team member having similar experiences.
Faria joining the team to take her design aesthetic and fashion background to transform the exoskeleton towards a second skin and fashion integration.
Asfia adding her network and experience with patients, clinicians and community to encourage feedback, build optimism throughout to improve recovery, driving for neuroplasticity/neurogenesis (activating mirror neurons) for faster and improved outcomes.
Ramin with his computer science specialty working on having ecosystems combine for the platform solution using Azure: IoT, Mobile, Stream Analytics, Power BI, Blob Storage, Cognitive Services and Machine Learning.
Team members discovering each other through community experiences, competitions, university innovation programs/projects.
Ecosystem and platform solution allowing remote monitoring, assistance, accessibility, lower costs. Clinical trials growing in 2022. Scaling with a startup.
Imagine Cup providing outstanding mentoring, recognized community for showcasing solution, global networking, empowering community, tech for good accessibility, meaningful feedback for improved solution design, pitching experience for focusing on the core solution key elements, access to amazing technologies, … endless.
Future: expanding from hand to arm and other areas; ability to be integrated in the metaverse for improved outcomes.
2017 IMAGINE CUP INTERVIEW — CHARU THOMAS — REFLECTIONS POST CUP
For additional context for the Imagine Cup, for this article, I did another interview with Charu Thomas who competed in the Microsoft 2017 Imagine Cup and achieved runner-up status. Charu success at Imagine Cup was the catalyst for the founding her startup Ox. The IEEE TEMS direct link (with profile) to the video interview can be found here.
In the interview we discuss her early research success at Georgia Tech (and post graduation work) in automation, process improvement tools within the supply chain and the need for improvements since they required substantial capital expenditures, space and didn’t make sense from an ROI standpoint in some cases.
Thus, while pursuing her degree, she undertook a research opportunity in wearable technology incorporating the value of software and hardware-enabled software to minimize infrastructure changes while improving efficiency. Her startup, Ox, builds tech that makes order fulfillment more efficient.
In 2019, Thomas relocated to Northwest Arkansas for the Fuel Accelerator and she received recognition such as Microsoft 2017 Imagine Cup, named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, AMP’s 2020 Future 50 list, …