Mobility instead of isolation – Project MOBY, Client: Sphaira Medical

The pandemic has exposed many aspects of society. Among them is the situation in which seriously ill people find themselves, who in their last moments are not even allowed to see their family. Families who have not been able to say goodbye to their loved ones.
These are extreme cases. Nevertheless, scenes like these moved Sphaira’s founders Moritz Eichhorn and Janis Münch to find a solution that would allow patients and their relatives, doctors and caregivers to be safe and close to the isolated patient.

It is often not possible for patients with a weakened immune system, for example after chemotherapy, to receive visitors. Since the risk of infection is too great, these people find themselves in medical isolation. Changing this is the goal of our project Moby with the Berlin-based startup Sphaira Medical.

The meeting – when the chemistry is there right away.

In various articles about the company Streetscooter and the electric scooter startup UNU, CEO Janis Münch noticed that PEM Motion was mentioned as a project partner in each case. Proactively, the founder contacted us and shortly thereafter had a first conversation with Gerd Macherey, Director Engineering and Validation, in which he outlined the idea of MOBY.

Naturally, we were immediately interested. In a first workshop with Sphaira, the idea was further elaborated and concretized.

From Sphaira’s point of view, what makes the collaboration particularly special is that we at PEM Motion understand how start-ups work, what resources are usually available and what results need to be generated quickly.

From our point of view, the interest was sparked immediately. Developing a sustainable, innovative solution from the very first idea is deep in our DNA. Realizing ideas together with our customers drives us to top performance.

The first prototype

We first developed a mock-up for the young company, on which important ergonomic parameters could be tested and adjusted. This prototype is intended to convey an initial sense of space. How does a patient get along with the vehicle? Can it also be used by people with limited mobility? And, of course, especially important: easy and thorough disinfection. Our concept features rounded edges to ensure this. This means it can be cleaned quickly and used safely in hectic everyday hospital or elderly care environments.

These parameters have been incorporated into the development of the prototype, which is scheduled for completion in May.

“Our experience shows that a tangible prototype can be very helpful.
For example, with our Moby prototype, determining a position of the arm grip that is ergonomic for short as well as tall people was very useful.”

Fabian Weis, Project Manager Moby, PEM Motion

True to our motto of Return on Engineering (RoE), a tangible product has been created in a short time and with little effort, allowing initial feedback to be obtained as early as possible and implemented in the development.

This ergonomics mock-up was presented at Berlin’s EUREF campus, a particularly suitable location with proximity to innovation and politics.

“The Corona pandemic has taught us the importance of new solutions in the field of medical care for isolation patients.
For us, it was particularly exciting to translate the vision of the founders into an experiential prototype.”

Gerd Macherey, Director Engineering & Validation, PEM Motion

Protective hoods, air filters and positive or negative pressurization protect patients from viruses and bacteria, and airtight gloves and an electric intercom system allow them to interact with the outside world. Instead of isolating sick, weak or elderly people, the idea is to make them visitable and mobile. Doctors can make more efficient rounds with isolation patients, relatives get the opportunity to come to the bedside or even accompany patients out of the room.

Standards and approval criteria – an important part, especially in the medical sector

That is why we conducted research into the applicable guidelines and standards during our project. This was followed by a risk assessment of the overall system and the derivation of requirements for the systems and components.

This means that the prototype is already designed to meet norms and standards. This saves time and money when certifying the final product. If you only consider the issue of functional safety at the end, you are often in for a nasty surprise. That’s why we pay more attention to this important topic right from the start of new ideas and innovations.

Learn more about our safetype partner approach.

How do sustainable mobility solutions and such an important project from the medical sector fit together?

At first glance, these areas do not appear to be related. But if we consider the core of the request, it quickly becomes clear that mobility today is more than just the car on the road.

At its core, Moby is about making patients, family members, caregivers and doctors mobile. And this is where we come in. Our know-how in electrifying small or unique vehicles was put to optimal use here. In addition, we have gained experience from numerous development projects in turning the initial idea into producible and, above all, scalable products.

For Sphaira, it was all about “filling the need for interpersonal communication in medical isolation,” says Janis Münch, Co-Founder and CEO Sphaira Medical.

The combination of mobility and medical technology provided the basis for developing a meaningful approach.

In the case of highly contagious diseases, a visit can currently only be made with a protective suit. This requires training and has to be cleaned at great expense. For simpler isolation cases, disposable protective suits are often used, which results in a quantity of waste not to be underestimated. MOBY can be cleaned by wipe disinfection and directly reused for the next application, which is not only easier, but also faster in the long run and above all: more sustainable.

We are proud to be engineering and development partner in such an important project. For us, this project shows very clearly how multifaceted the topic of mobility should be viewed. Accompanying solutions from the idea to market maturity, realizing ideas and making them tangible are what drive us.

We look forward to developing creative ideas for a better future together with our customers.

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