This is part of a series giving you an insider’s view of the products coming out of Pittsburgh to change the world.
Mark Twain once said, “During the gold rush, it’s a good time to be in the picks and shovels business.” If wearable robotic technology for health is today’s gold rush, the picks and shovels are being created in a suburb of Pittsburgh at Humotech.
Short for Human Motion Technologies, Humotech provides systems that help developers of wearable machines, including exoskeletons and prosthetics, to test and refine their products.
Product managers from other companies and university researchers turn to Humotech’s devices and technology to accelerate their own research and development.
Humotech, located in the University of Pittsburgh Applied Research Center (U-PARC) in Harmarville, features a system that Humotech founder, President and CEO Josh Caputo named Caplex.
Caplex can emulate the movement of a human wearing the device during testing or determine how the device reacts when the human moves.
The largest part of the system is an actuator, which looks like an oversized foot locker brimming with cables and aluminum scaffolding. The Caplex actuator is hooked to the wearable device via cables, with other cables leading to a computer that collects and analyzes the data.
As a Ph.D. researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, Caputo realized that to become market-worthy, wearable devices would need to be tested — and that somebody had to provide the testing mechanism.
So he created Humotech. Caputo found U-PARC had room for him to expand, yet stay close to home. Fittingly, he’s in offices that previously were research offices for Gulf Oil, a titan of technology in the energy industry that was once based in Pittsburgh.
Unlike many Pittsburgh-based startups, Caputo already had working capital at the ready, because he had three customers by the time he started who would provide him with enough revenue to operate in his initial stage.
According to Caputo, while he came up with the concepts, the ability to turn them into a product has been provided by Humotech’s Director of Engineering Carl Curran, a robotics engineer who joined him in 2015. Caputo’s now-wife, Candice, joined the team a few years later as vice president of Development.
Know of a product or service being developed in Pittsburgh or by a Pittsburgh-based company that is cool, is creating growth, or will change the world? Let David know by emailing him.