Space Walker is an innovation that has won an international gold medal prize and is based on a thesis from the Master of Engineering department of Thammasat University on the design of a gait-assisted machine with partial weight support.
The innovation is funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation or MHESI from Technology and Innovation-Based Enterprise Development Fund TED Fund. The fund strives to drive and support the young generation to do business by using technology and innovation and transform them into economic value.
Mr Warath Sitlaothaworn, Co-developer of Space Walker, reveals that the creation of physical therapy equipment for patients with ASL, postoperative patients, or elderly patients came from thesis research work. We get the idea from “ZeroG” equipment that we saw overseas. It is dynamic overhead support that assists patients to walk on the track. However, the product has a limitation as it can only be used in hospitals or specific places only.
Moreover, Thailand has not yet developed a gait-assisted machine with partial weight support. The only gait-assisted products are crutch and walker which may cause the patients to fall down. Therefore, the development of Space Walker with partial weight support to assist the patients in physical training after the operation is important. It is a new machine that never existed before in Thailand.
Warath also says, “Postoperative patients will have problem with muscle and need to do muscle training using a gait-assisted machine with partial weight support. The machine will prevent the patients from falling down and assist them to practice walking.”
“After the prototype of this machine is created, we have joined national and international innovation competition in order to make it well-known to make it easier to do business.
“In the meantime, the prize money that we received is used as our capital to further develop the machine. For example, we won the prize money from “GSB the Best SMEs Startup” for 1 million baht competition.”
“Furthermore, we also get support from Technology and Innovation-Based Enterprise Development Fund (TED Fund) to elaborate it to practical use and commercial production. Recently, we strive to build our brand named WOKA, under the Creative Engineering and Development (CED2), Thammasat University,” he adds.
“Our team has developed Space Walker to acquire quality equivalent to the imported ones. The price of similar products is about 5 million baht. However, it is not affordable and suitable for Thai’s people needs, while our product can be made within the budget of 50,000-60,000 baht only. Currently, more than 200 Space Walkers were produced and sold by 60 healthcare institutions nationwide,” he continues.
“Our determination is to allow Thai people to access quality and affordable product. However, it is undeniable that doing business might not serve the needs of all target groups. Therefore, if the government sector encourages the use of this equipment in local healthcare organizations around the country, it will increase their opportunity to access the product. The government will encourage the use of the product in government organizations first but will not launch it to the international market in order to retain revenue to the company. After that, the firm will use that sum of money to further develop the product. As a result, when the company can do mass production, the product’s price will be cheaper,” Warath explains.
“We will work on the product’s standardization and expand it to the domestic market before launching to the international market in 2022.”
“In the future, we plan to expand its working functions to meet the needs of all groups of people such as people who cannot stand or walk. It is expected that the product’s prototype will be launched within next month. Moreover, we will develop the product to support patients with Cerebral Palsy and Orthopedic patients,” he adds.
“In the long run, we aim to develop the product that provides more solutions for more target groups such as people with arm and leg problem.
“The further development will be in collaboration with the Thammasat research centre. All in all, 70% of user groups will be the general public while 30% of them will be hospitals.”
“Currently, we are working to get listed on Thailand Innovation List. If the process is completed, it is expected that customer proportion will be different as 90% of the medical equipment customer group is the government sector,” he concludes.