Mission

The mission of The Other Realm is to direct where entropy is headed and use it to benefit humanity.

Vision

The vision of The Other Realm is to create a more collaborative economy driven not by competition for money but by seeking to drive change towards a shared goal of improving the collective self.

Description -

The Other Realm (TOR) seeks to establish a design, research, education and innovation shop that is run using collaborative, heterarchical, and sociocratic principles.  This nonprofit organization will play host to individuals who have innovative ideas or unique perspectives that have the potential to help humanity, mainly in the fields of biology, medical technology, computer human interaction and general societal improvement.  To begin, TOR will be focused on the creation of a viable medical/health product that will serve as a means of revenue and validation.  In the long term, TOR will be the leading edge of a new era of open source products that help society evolve in an ever more joyful direction and a source for collaborative education and community building.

The Other Realm's model of Iteration

Development roadmap

            The Other Realm's first aim is to establish financial and societal viability by two interconnected methods. One aspect is the creation of a biofeedback system for procedural skills like the optimization of vocabulary acquisition and retrieval, playing the piano, walking, improving video game play, and more. The other, interconnected, aspect is the creation of an open shop that community members, especially at risk youth, the unemployed or those seeking a different avenue of income of any walk of life can use to learn technical and innovation skills by becoming associate members (refer to the governance section).

            To this achieve the first goal, an iterative approach will be used, whereby a viable prototype of various components of the entire system will be created that can be brought out to developers and be user tested by a range of markets from the disabled population to those simply seeking to improve on or learn a new skill. The first component to be created is a software platform that can be utilized as a means of tracking ability improvement, and as a preliminary gauge of marketing strategy and community acceptance, simple software to boost reading speed and working memory. Once these systems are in place, a move to the physical realm will be deployed in the development of a type of electric muscle stimulating orthotic that improves procedural skill.

            When a stable financial model is achieved, then the hope will be to open the shop to anyone with a problem but not the resources with which to bring about a solution. It is the eventual goal of TOR to slowly move from the primary objective being to make just biofeedback systems, to a hub for original ideas that need an avenue with which to blossom in a collaborative way. The speed at which this transition takes place is mainly dependent on the financial liquidity at this stage and the interest that has been developed in the organization so far. Therefore, the strategic use of online and offline social media will be an important component of the early stage development of TOR so the right group of people can come on board at the right stage. Another component of early stage marketing will be towards people with limited resources who would benefit enormously from learning shop, entrepreneurial, and collaborative principles. Therefore, after space for the shop is acquired and the basic infrastructure is in place, we will reach out to intercity schools, homeless shelters, veteran's homes and other such places.

Goals -

End of Spring 2016

  • Have revised business plan to reflect change of focus on the framework/software model
  • Have a framework for software and have begun to implement said framework
  • Have started to find locations

End of Summer 2016

  • Have legally established as a business
  • Starting to find associate members
  • Have found some funding

End of 2016

  • Have moved into the new location
  • Reaching out to connect with the community
  • First associate members have joined TOR
  • Have started working on Kinesthaid prototype again
Product Plan -

            Our first product will be known as Kinesthaid (kinesthetic + aid).  The goal of Kinesthaid is to optimize the training/retraining of the body and the mind for specific motor skills and general productivity – things that are known as procedural skills.  These skills have a degree of automation when proficiency is achieved but are consciously learned by repetition.  It is our goal to speed up the rate at which a skill goes from needing conscious effort to being automatic.

            Realizing that to design a complete, consumer ready system will take considerable time and effort, the plan is to use an iterative method of development, whereby distinct components of the overall system will be developed to a marketable stage before the overall system is released.  This has several distinct advantages over waiting for the entire system to be fleshed out and certified before releasing the finished product.  First, it means less time and capital will be needed before an input stream can begin to come in.  Second, it lets the kinks be worked out and user feedback to be gathered along the way.  And third, it allows for open source collaboration at an earlier stage.  This will both allow for the possibility of many more developers to help shape the device and, at the same time, to get user input into the features that can be added and problems that can be worked out in the next version.

            Given these parameters, the idea is to start with the design of a low cost unit that can detect its position and angle in relation to gravity and the body and programmatically send out pulses of high voltage, low amperage signals to the intended muscle when the angle of tilt and amount of acceleration are correct.  As EMS is currently a relatively niche market, mainly geared towards the disabled and sports crowds of which there is a relatively small percentage that also are into electronics and invention, there is no active open source projects in this area.  What’s more, in the specific area of EMS dorsiflexion assistance which our first product is geared towards, there are only two viable competitors of any kind (Hanger and Bioness) selling proprietary units that are little more than a tilt or pressure sensor and some basic software interfaces for configuring the systems (but not providing user data and easy configuration).  These units cost $6300.00 for the Bioness, approximately $4600.00 for the Hanger WalkAide and their replacement parts are very expensive as well.  The units are also not covered by most insurance companies, meaning they are something not feasible for a sizable percentage of disabled people, many of whom are on a low or fixed income. 

            The waveform, frequency, duty cycle, amplitude and tilt that control the pulses of current sent out will be able to be changed to a certain degree, but there will be hardwired limits that prevent the unit from giving off damaging levels of electricity.  This system, once given the basic parameters, will use machine learning algorithms to adapt and adjust these parameters based on the degree that the body moves in the desired direction.  It will communicate via Bluetooth to a smartphone or computer that enables the tracking of activity on the effectiveness of the device so that the user and/or caregiver and/or doctor/therapist can make manual tweaks in an easy manner.  An important point will be that the user will have a certain degree of control (to the extent that is safe) and be able to make changes to their walking habits based on this data.

            Once the basic circuitry is designed, the next step is to design 'clothing' that will be able to release a stimulating current into the correct muscles but be able to be put on and taken off in a similar manner as stockings or long underwear.  It will need to be able to 'breath' and not make someone wearing it hot.  As sweat or dirt will accumulate as fast as normal clothing that is normally used only once or twice before being washed; it also needs to be durable and machine washable but still give off a good signal to the innervating skin beneath.  For this reason, price will need to be factored in as multiple pieces will be necessary per user.  Given those significant constraints, it is likely that a good design will take considerable R&D.  Therefore, while this is going on, user testing and sales should be active on the electronic side of things and a temporary design using conventional EMS pads should be employed.

Financials –

Assumptions –

            At these early stages with so many parameters that could chance, it is very difficult to make good predictions. Based on the estimated number of possible clients for the Kinesthaid though, (refer to the market outlook section of the Kinesthaid Products and Services section) and the fact that we hope to sell to the international market starting around 2018, these numbers are conservative estimates. Additionally, the expenses will almost certainly be much less than is laid out below. However, in this preliminary financial analysis, we did not factor in the addition of more worker members, meaning that although other expenses may be less, the total may work out to be about the same amount or slightly more. Being cooperatively run however, means that the total profits will be distributed among the members, therefore TOR as a whole will not likely see much change in monetary assets.

Expenses –

Item

Price

One time startup cost estimates

 

Reserved: One Depends
						    on the other
						    Land

$150,000-500,000

Sewing machine

<$300 (get used, commercial machines are very expensive new)

Bandsaw

$500-1000

3-D printer

$3000-4000

Drill

$200

Drill press/milling machine

$300-1000

Handybot

$2795

Other Legal

Factor in $7500 for filling with the FCC and filling for LLC or not for profit corporation.  Will consult an expert (UMASS for the FCC?)

Startup costs

$165,595-518,795

Recurring bills

 

Health insurance

$3000-6000×member (3 members=$9000-18000) (250-500 member/month)

Utility (variable, dependent on location)

$2400-3000

Cash on hand for other consumables (i.e. office supplies, setup for events/meetings, ex.)

factor in $50000 of working capital

Member payroll

$40000-75,000×member (3 members=120000-250,000)

Total reoccurring bills

$181,400-321,000

Total one year costs

$346,995-839,795

Total three year costs

$709,795-1,481,795

Income –

 

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Sales of prototype/ developer tool

100

175

175

250

300

Gross profit

$25,000

$43,750

$43,750

$62,500

$75,000

Income

$10,000

$17,500

$17,500

$25,000

$30,000

Sales of retail Kinesthaid device

0

500

2500

5000

7500

Gross profit

0

$125,000

$625,000

$1,250,000

$2,500,000

Income

0

$75,000

$375,000

$750,000

$1,125,000

Total Gross Profit

$25,000

$168,750

$668,750

$1,311,500

$2,575,000

Total

$10,000

$92,500

$492,500

$1,025,000

$1,555,000

Profit From Prototype/Developer Tools

Profit From Kinesthaid

Total Profit

Average Profit/Loss

 

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Profit

$10,000

$92,000

$492,500

$1,025,000

$1,555,000

Loss (cumulative)

$593,395

$834,595

$993,795

$752,495

$251,200

P/L

($583,395)

($742,595)

($501,295)

$272,505

$1,303,800

Profit/Loss

Means of short term startup financing

-Grants/Loans/Donations

Advantages

-Potential for temporary funding for a up to a couple of years with less work then it would be to bring a product to market that will earn sufficient ROE to be the sole source of financing for the research into the next product.  This means that work can more tied to what is wanted by the group rather than by what is needed short term to keep the organization afloat.

Disadvantages

-Potential to be tied in to a certain way of doing things or a certain organization, institution or corporation's goals and strategies that may not match our own.

-Usually only short term

-A hassle working on finding and writing the grants

-Will probably not be the sole source of funding

-Obviously loans need to be paid off plus interest and most loans are non-forgiving

-Some infrastructure needs to be in place before most grants/loans are up for consideration.

-Crowd Funding

Advantages

-Basically the same advantages as for grants

-Crowd funding can double as a marketing tool

-Less legal strings attached (possibly more social strings though)

Disadvantages

-Crowd funding can lead to an obligation to need to stick to what is marketed in the funding push

-Usually only short term

-A hassle working on amping up the vibe, can take up a significant amount of time.

Potential Crowd Funding platforms

-Kickstarter

-Indiegogo

-Experiment.com

-ActBlue

-Own donations using PayPal or other credit card processing company such as the above

-Angle Investors/Venture Capital

Advantages

-Likely one of the largest source of capital

-Potential for more than simply monetary contributions (i.e., advice, business connections)

Disadvantages

-Will want a return on the investment and are probably less likely to contribute because we will be a nonprofit worker cooperative that puts priorities on helping people and returning profits to worker members, not outside leaches

-Will most likely want a say in how the business is run

-Partner with UMASS/Five Colleges/Another organization or business

Advantages

-Many existing resources

-Probably the largest source of ready knowledge in the area for advice and training

-Abundant student help?

-Because of the first two advantages, potentially a quicker means of producing a viable product

Disadvantages

-Probable to have much less autonomy

-Probable need to share in profits

-Less ability to scale on our own timeframe and to the same extent

Products and services -

Kinesthaid gait training system -

-Competition

Hanger Walk Aide ≈ $4600

-A relatively simple one channel EMS device that fires stimulation to the peroneal nerve in the swing phase of gait using a tilt sensor

-Well established business (been around since the civil war) and has a traditional corporate hierarchy structure and a closed door, proprietary development model.

-Has its own facilities (as opposed to working exclusively with PTs in therapy centers).

Bioness L300 - $6300

-An even pricier device that triggers the EMS via a pressure sensor in a shoe and works on the same muscle groups.

-Limited usefulness as you need to be wearing a shoe

-Has licensed therapists that work with sales reps.

-Have a sense that a lot of money goes into marketing

Conventional Ankle-Foot Orthosis - $200-800

-Lead to muscle atrophy of the muscles that need strengthening

-Can cause acute pain in the extensor digitorum longus muscle and the distal (lower) part of the tibialis anterior muscle

-Can cost as much or more than the Kinesthaid

-Market Outlook

-5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI[i]

-TBI is a $56 billion a year industry

- Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.[ii]

-Hemiplegia and hemiparesis are the most common deficits caused by stroke[iii] and represents the dominant functionally limiting symptom in 80% of patients with acute stroke.2

-The estimated number of US Patients who are treated for Hemiplegia is around 105700 per year[iv]

-What Kinesthaid does better and why people will buy it

-The Kinesthaid will be significantly cheaper.  We will achieve this by being a nonprofit collaborative organization that focuses on meeting the needs of our intended users and by not needing to maximize profits for investors. 

-We will also achieve lower costs by using the latest low-cost integrated circuits that have available in the past few years.  The other companies that are in our direct competition developed their products back before those cheap ICs were available. 

-This has an added advantage of being much easier to roll out improvements because they will be mainly software related and not require extensive FDA recertification.

-We will market by community involvement

-In comparison to conventional AFO orthotics, EMS assisted devices strethen muscles instead of atrophying them.

http://muscle.ucsd.edu/images/mi/esrabtas.jpg

←Photograph of control (top) and experimentally stimulated (bottom) rabbit tibialis anterior muscles.  Note the dark (deep red) appearance of the stimulated muscle which reflects the dramatic capillary proliferation of myoglobin (a protean that is the primary oxygen pigment of muscle cells) content Source: http://muscle.ucsd.edu/musintro/es.shtml

 

 

 

 

-Financial reasoning

For a rough estimate of our total customer base, from extrapolations on the estimated number of US patients who are treated for hemiplegia annually, which comes out to be about 1057004, if we can capture 10% of these, we can gross more than $2.5 million, resulting in around $1.8 million in profit.  And this is the just in the US.  However, these are very rough numbers and more thorough user needs analysis will be conducted via online discussion board feedback and one on one in person interviews.

Bill Of Materials, Kinesthaid, gait

(developer iteration 1, EMS – Proof of Principle)

 

DC-DC converter - DCP010515DBP-ND*2

$12.16  ($24.32)

680Ω*6 resistors

$0.05 ($0.30) [$5.00 in packs of 100]

ADXL345 breakout board

$4.00 (plus $2.99 shipping)

2.2µF low−ESR ceramic Capacitor*4

$1.64000 ($6.56)

225Ω resistor

$0.0322 [$3.22 in packs of 100]

Red LED

$0.15

Breadboard

$2.79

Digi-Key shipping (<8oz)

$3.54

Electrode Pads*2

$0.75 ($1.50)

BeagleBone Black

$52.70

Total Cost

$98.88

Estimated retail product cost (per unit)

 

Electrical components

<$40

Attachment mechanism

≈$10

Packaging

≈$2

Manufacturing

$25±15

Electrode Pads

$1.50

Total cost

$78.50

Estimated Retail Price

$250


Marketing Strategy

Discussion boards/Social media

From an early stage, social media will be used as a means of gathering interest and shaping the initial focus of TOR.  This will be the main means of getting the word out because it is the most cost effective strategy for finding the right group of core members and it enables communication as to the mutual compatibility and fit.  Below is a partial list of websites to target:

Reddit
Facebook.com (Practicum possibilities, et. al.)
Twitter.com
Meetup.com
http://www.thescienceforum.com/
http://www.scienceforums.net/
https://www.physforum.com/
http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/
https://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?fid=CbCe1!plus!mhz8Q_E

Network, Network, Network…

  • Make connections that will turn around and make more connections
  • Person to person, go out in the community and talk to people at events
  • Talk to people/organizations that may not be directly related or relevant to TOR but have potential contacts with people who may be
    • Meetup.com
  • Work with local nonprofit organizations and business
    • Colleges (community or otherwise), elementary/middle/high schools, local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, community outreach organizations
    • All Out Adventures
    • Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts
Governance -

The Other Realm's model of Iteration

Forms of membership

There will be several forms of membership that an individual can join:

Worker Members

A worker member shall be an individual, selected by unanimous vote of all existing worker members plus this individual, who will contribute time and effort to furthering the mission of The Other Realm (TOR) (refer to the Mission section).  Other than for the founding members, all potential members must spend a chunk of time as partners before being eligible to join as full members.  All worker members shall receive an income unless doing so would put the cooperative as a whole in jeopardy of default.  All worker members are entitled and responsible for full participation in all aspects of the day to day responsibilities of the organization in the manner seen fitting for the task at hand.  There shall be the implied responsibility of all members to complete tasks that are required but that no interested member or partner has volunteered to complete.  A worker member will have an interest in and knowledge of a relevant field that they would like become the leader in and a desire to learn more in other fields that other members are knowledgeable in and have taken on as their responsibilities.  In this way, the cooperative shall gradually increase its collective knowledge and skill.
All worker members shall have equal voting rights.

Initial roles need –
Given that the potential startup revenue stream will be limited, the number of members to start should be in the range of 2-4 and these will be associate members with a fast track to becoming full worker members upon acquisition of funding and assuming compatibility with the group.  These members will bring on board ideas of their own and have a real desire to collaborate with the rest of the team and learn from others.  The method by which these members will be found is outlined briefly in the Marketing Strategies section.  The needed roles that have not been filled as yet are:

Electrical Engineer (people whose native environment is with a soldering iron in their hand)
This position entails working to bring the prototype design of the Kinesthaid circuitry to a production level and collaborating with those doing the programing to establish communication with a range of devices.  You should have many ideas of both applications to procedural learning augmentation and other, greater, ambitions of ways to bring joy.

Mechanical/Material engineer (people whose native environment is a shop)
This position entails developing the part that connects to the body and generally being the all-around handy-person.  You should like to fix things, tweak things, make things, and figure out how things work on a practical level.

Marketing, Media, Basic Accounting, Grant Writing, Graphic Design, Basic Legal (people who like to interact with others and form connections, always on the move), possibly 2 positions
This position is the main public face of TOR, to some extent therefore, everyone has a role to play.  However, this (these) role(s) will do the majority of the non-development aspects of the organization.  It is a big responsibility; this role will be perhaps the most crucial to the success of the long term prospects of TOR.  You will use novel ways to get the word out and get people interested and informed.  You have revolutionary ways of changing the status quo of hierarchal governance into heterarchical direct democracy and you want to be a voice for the silent majority.  You are also a wiz at numbers and getting grants to make the numbers work.  Finally, someone in the group is good at graphics (computer graphics and physical hand drawings/drawing on a tablet).

Associate Member

This will be either the avenue by which someone becomes a member of The Other Realm or a way that someone can gain the skills to iterate on the cooperative business model once they have created a viable product of their own.  The individuals in this group will spend approximately half their time working with an existing worker coop member and half their time developing their own idea.  When the person has gained sufficient knowledge and skill and advanced their own project sufficiently, they will either start their own cooperative or join the worker cooperative of TOR if it and the member are in line with their goals.  Ideally, given available funding, associates will be able to receive insurance and a stipend while they learn and work although the details of cost sharing will need to be worked out when interested partners come on board and funds will need to be available.

Partner Member

This shall be an entity, either individual or existing organization/business that has some sustained relationship with The Other Realm in some fashion.

Visitors/Guests/Other Non-Members or Potential Members

This is will include anyone who is not a worker member, an associate or partner but is interested in the organization.  This, generally, will be anyone who has been at the shop and received safety training or gone to some event put on by TOR.

Supporter Member

This is a potential type of membership for entities that support The Other Realm in some way other than work and on a transient basis.

Nontransferability

Worker membership rights and interests may not be transferred except to the cooperative.  Any attempted transfer contrary to this section shall be wholly void and shall confer no rights on the intended transferee unless prearranged and voted on by unanimous consent of all worker members.

Settlement of Disputes

In any dispute between TOR and any of its members or former members which cannot be resolved through informal negotiation, the cooperative reserves the right to use mediation whereby an impartial mediator may facilitate negotiations between the parties and assist them in developing a mutually acceptable settlement.  No member with a grievance against another member, or of the cooperative, shall have recourse to litigation until the matter is submitted to mediation and attempted to be resolved in good faith.

Suspension or Termination

Members may be terminated, upon unanimous vote of all members, exclusive of the member in question if:

  1. They do not comply with the purpose of the cooperative or violate the bylaws/governmental laws OR if they commit other acts deemed deleterious to the function and future of the cooperative.
  2. AND the individual has been questioned as to why they are currently or have in the past act(ing/ed) in this fashion and their actions are deemed unresolvable according to Settlement of Disputes

A member may also relinquish membership in the cooperative by selling their share of the cooperative back to the cooperative at the worth of the share when they became members in monetary and/or non-monetary means, as is deemed appropriate by all parties involved but to be defaulted as money if no other method can be resolved.  This request must be made in writing and all other members shall act on the request within 180 days of receiving the written request.  Any membership patronage refunds will be returned on a first in, first out basis subject to the availability of funds and deductions for debts owed by the member to the cooperative.

 

[1] Get a more complete table of insurance companies that do and do not cover orthotics

[2] Thurman D, Alverson C, Dunn K, Guerrero J, Sniezek J. Traumatic brain injury in the United States: a public health perspective. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 1999;14(6):602-15.

[3] http://www.strokecenter.org/patients/about-stroke/stroke-statistics/

[4] François Chollet, Jean Tardy, Jean-François Albucher, Claire Thalamas, Emilie Berard, Catherine Lamy, Yannick Bejot, Sandrine Deltour, Assia Jaillard, Philippe Niclot, Benoit Guillon, Thierry Moulin, Philippe Marque, Jérémie Pariente, Catherine Arnaud, Isabelle Loubinoux. Fluoxetine for motor recovery after acute ischaemic stroke(FLAME): a randomised placebo-controlled trial. January 10, 2011; DOI:10.1016/S1474-4422(10)70314-8

[5] Estimates based on 131748 patient visits to healthcare providers from NAMCS and NHAMCS, weighted for USA demographics, 2006 to 2007 by Wolfram Alpha