#20: Ontario-based businesses and the innovation born as a result of COVID-19
Hannah Fung, director of marketing: Myant was founded in 2010 with the mission to transform human connectedness and has created the world’s first platform that ambiently connects people to their own bodies, to each other and to the world around them through the use of textiles that can sense and react to the human body.
By knitting sensors and actuators into textiles, we enable all people to connect to care, unlock new levels of performance and work more safely and harmoniously with their environments. With an extensive patent portfolio, key exclusive relationships within the textile-computing industry, a multidisciplinary team of researchers, engineers, data scientists, fashion designers and knitting specialists, and more than 80,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity, Myant is turning everyday textiles into bidirectional interfaces for human-computer interaction.
“Our masks are knitted using copper and silver yarns, materials known to possess antiviral and antibacterial properties.”
Prior to COVID, Myant was working on the commercialization of garments that connect people to those who care about their well-being — loved ones, healthcare professionals and themselves. By collecting data from the human body via clothing, the AI on the Myant platform can look for deviations in your body’s baseline behaviour that may warrant additional investigation. The insight extracted from this data can be shared by the user to those in their circle of care in order to create a closed-loop system enabling better decisions when it comes to healthcare management.
Fighting the pandemic.
When the pandemic became a reality for everybody, Myant looked at ways in which it could help. Governments across the country were looking for ways to address the shortage of PPE. As an end-to-end company capable of designing, testing and manufacturing advanced textile products in our facility in Toronto, Myant turned their team of textile scientists, fashion designers and knitting specialists to rapidly design, test and commercialize reusable, washable textile masks. Our masks are different in that they are knitted using copper and silver yarns, materials known to possess antiviral and antibacterial properties. We were definitely racing against the clock to commercialize a product to fill this desperate need and it was a tremendous struggle. The hard work paid off and after three weeks, we started producing masks at scale and selling to the public. Our manufacturing lines had to be reconfigured to support the production of textile masks.
By pivoting, I think we really began to understand the power of our interdisciplinary team and our end-to-end capabilities. We have all the expertise in-house needed to not just simply produce a textile mask (as anyone with a textile factory can), but to start with the fundamental yarn science and researching ways to integrate copper and silver into a new form factor to innovate. Our work did not stop at masks (which are continually being iterated upon, including designs intended to provide a textile alternative to disposable medical respirators rated at N95) as our core product. Skiin, which connects a person’s physical well-being with care providers, enables remote patient monitoring. In the wake of the pandemic, we have seen how incredibly useful and necessary telehealth solutions are. This is especially true for the elderly population who are most at risk of complications due to COVID-19. Skiin was already ideally suited to monitor an elderly person’s well-being and provide notifications of potential health problems. By tuning the system towards symptoms and biometrics relevant to COVID-19, we have effectively created a strong tool in the fight against the pandemic.
Business since the pivot.
In the fall, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, announced a funding agreement with Myant through the advanced manufacturing supercluster organization known as NGen to help bring Skiin to the people of Canada, a clear validation of the impact that Skiin will have on society.
We continue to have numerous conversations with the public and private sectors, not just about Skiin’s application within healthcare, but also in the context of connected performance and connected workplace safety. I think the world is just starting to see the possibilities we have been bringing to fruition over the years. Crises have a way of accelerating change and I think that we are seeing that play out right now.