The initial idea
Many great inventions start with someone saying that there must be a better way of doing this. The story of MiiMove started in 2017 when a physiotherapist Jarmo Raukola was talking with a patient of his, Tero Nevala. Jarmo said that it is hard to understand why people who need a walking aid are forced to use a rollator, which puts people in an ergonomically awkward crouching position.
Tero Nevala has 45 years of experience in product development, and he decided to share the problem with a friend, Juha Alitalo. Juha is an industrial designer, and he was immediately interested in solving the problem.
The three men got together and started collecting information about the walking aids people nowadays use. They acquired and tested several rollators on the market to see if the problem was real.
The tests showed that initial problem was true: the traditional walking aids force the user into ergonomically poor positions, which may lead to wrist and back pain and other problems.
The tests also showed that a rollator, which is in front of the user, makes it hard for people to open doors, get into an elevator and get close to objects. And as anticipated, people don’t like to use rollators as they make them look and feel older than they are.
After the experiments it was clear that there is a need for a new kind of walking aid that lets people walk in an upright position and supports the user both physically and mentally. The trio decided to start working to create a new kind of moving aid with two core features: the user should be positioned in the center of the device and he/she should be walking in an upright position.
The first prototypes
After benchmarking the current solutions, studying the designs of existing walking aid devices and evaluating the materials etc., the prototype 0 were made in Juha Alitalo’s garage.
“At this point it was more like a hobby and a fun project – we just started experimenting and wanted to see if our idea could be turned into reality”, explains Juha Alitalo.
The first “self-made” prototype was produced for demoing the idea, doing field tests and getting feedback. After realizing that the idea works and there really could be a market for a new kind of walking aid, in 2019 the work started for design and developing the prototype 1.0 of MiiMove.
At this point the first investor, Klaus Viljamaa, a serial entrepreneur and start-up investor/advisor, had gotten involved in the project.
The target was to make the device as small as possible but so that user could move freely without the fear of hitting the wheels or the metal bars of the device. When prototype 1.0 was ready, it was used to acquire user feedback.
A lot of user tests were carried out with prototype 1.0, and the user feedback was used in making the final version.
A new version with improvements
After the user tests a new investor, Mikko Saari, also an experienced serial entrepreneur, got involved to help with the commercialization and marketing the concept of MiiMove. A decision to make a new and improved version of MiiMove was made, and a design and product development partner Muodonmuutos Inc was hired to the project.
The new version uses specially designed oval aluminium bars, which make MiiMove feel extremely sturdy and secure.
“If you have problems with walking or balance, it is very important that you can rely on the device in all situations”, tells Jarmo Raukola.
MiiMove is the 21st century walking aid
The new version of MiiMove is now ready. The structure and outlook have changed a lot but the core ideas have been the same from the start:
- the user is in the center of the walking aid
- the user is in an upright position and is therefore able to walk like a normal human being
- the user is able to move and rotate in a small space and get close to doors and other objects
- the device is easily adjustable so that it fits to people of different sizes
“MiiMove is extremely easy to maneuver. The usability is miles ahead of rollators. MiiMove moves with you – you don’t have to push or pull it. It turns around with you when you decide to turn around. MiiMove is the 21st century alternative for the traditional walking aids”, concludes Tero Nevala.
“For an older person the person acquiring the device might be their relatives, adult children for example. If they want to get the best possible walking aid both physically and mentally, MiiMove has a lot more to offer than the traditional walking aids. For younger users in need of a walking aid, the modern look and the upright position make MiiMove a much more appealing choice than rollators”, explains Jarmo Raukola.