Bill Smith believes he’s developing the best product available for strengthening neck muscles, and that it will be even better thanks to a deal he just signed with SimWave Consulting of Kanata, Ont.
Smith is a Bridgewater chiropractor who has used his professional knowledge to develop Neck Tronics, whose product helps athletes and people recovering from injury to strengthen the neck.
Last month, he announced that Neck Tronics has formed a partnership with SimWave Consulting, a specialist in augmented reality and virtual reality. The idea is that the new product — which will go through human trials in the two months — will help strengthen the neck, and the AR-VR component will help the user use the product and understand its benefits.
“We’re developing a product for strengthening the neck,” said Smith in a phone interview last week. “There are a lot of products out there to strengthen the neck but . . . we believe that we have the best product that’s out there.”
Smith said the Neck Tronics product is attacking a huge market because there are so many people suffering from whiplash or concussion. Studies have shown that athletes reduce the risk of concussion if they strengthen their neck muscles, so Neck Tronics is developing a preventive tool to help avoid one of the blackest marks against modern sports — the risk of head trauma.
Whiplash and concussions cause physical pain for individuals and families, and massive pain for the economy, said Smith. Adding in lost productivity, the cost of rehabilitation and other factors, he said, whiplash costs the economy $25 billion to $40 billion a year in the U.S. and Canada, and with concussions the figure is closer to $60 billion.
The Neck Tronics device will help sports trainers, coaches and athletes assess the strength of an individual’s neck and then work to bolster the muscles between the shoulders and skull. And for people with injuries, it will help with the rehabilitation process. Smith, who came up with the idea about three-and-a-half years ago, said there is a huge benefit to having a visual component in the product, and that is why he partnered with SimWave.
“At SimWave, we have been working on the forefront of VR/AR technology since 2013 and have seen many new and interesting implementations of the technology across a multitude of industries,” said SimWave CFO Adam Caitness in a statement. “We are proud to be able to collaborate our efforts in the AR/VR field with a medical provider to create a new and exciting product that is much needed.”
Smith has received some grant money and is now raising equity to finance the growth of Neck Tronics. He’s raised about $200,000 in a round he hopes will reach $550,000 soon.
He plans to take the product to market as a strength device for athletes and has already had interest from rugby organizers, as well as those in hockey and football. Introducing Neck Tronics as a product for athletes will avoid the lengthy regulatory process associated with medical devices, so it could be on the market in November.
Meanwhile, the company is also applying to have Neck Tronics approved as a Class II medical rehabilitation product with the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. and Health Canada. If successful, Smith hopes to have the product in rehab centres by the third quarter of 2018.