Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

461: PSYONIC with Dr. Aadeel Akhtar

February 9th, 2023

Dr. Aadeel Akhtar is the Founder and CEO of PSYONIC, a company whose mission is to develop advanced prostheses that are affordable for everyone.

Victoria talks to Dr. Akhtar about the gaps in the market he saw in current prosthetic ability, advancements PSYONIC has been able to make since commercialization, and essential principles and values that were important to him when building out the PSYONIC team.

Become a Sponsor of Giant Robots!


VICTORIA: This is The Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host Victoria Guido. And with me today is Dr. Aadeel Akhtar, Founder and CEO of PSYONIC, a company whose mission is to develop advanced prostheses that are affordable for everyone. Aadeel, thank you for joining me.

DR. AADEEL: Thank you for having me, Victoria. This is fun.

VICTORIA: Yes, I'm excited to meet you. So I actually ran into you earlier this week at a San Diego tech meetup. And I'm curious just to hear more about your company PSYONIC.

DR. AADEEL: So, as you mentioned, we develop advanced bionic limbs that are affordable and accessible. And this is actually something I've wanted to do my whole life ever since I was seven years old. My parents are from Pakistan. I was born in the Chicago suburbs. But I was visiting, and that was the first time I met someone missing a limb; and she was my age missing her right leg, using a tree branch as a crutch, living in poverty. And that's kind of what inspired me to go into this field.

VICTORIA: Wonderful. And maybe you can start with what gaps in the market did you see in current prosthetic ability?

DR. AADEEL: When we first started making these prosthetic devices, we were 3D printing them. And we thought that the biggest issue with prosthetic devices was that they were way too expensive and saw that with 3D printing, we'd be able to reduce the prices on them. And that's true; it was actually one of the biggest issues, but it wasn't the biggest issue.

After talking with hundreds of patients and clinicians, the number one thing that we found that patients and clinicians would raise issue with was that their super expensive bionic hands were breaking all the time. And these were made with injection molded plastics and custom-machined steel. And they weren't doing anything crazy with it. They would accidentally hit the hand against the side of a table, but because they were made out of rigid components, they would end up snapping up those joints.

And a natural hand, for example, if you bang a natural hand against a table or a rigid object, then it flexes out of the way. It has compliance in it, and that's why it's able to survive those types of hits and impacts a little bit more. It forced us to think outside the box of how can we still leverage the low-cost manufacturing of 3D printing but make this hand more robust than anything out there? And that's when I started looking into soft robotics.

And with soft robotics, instead of making rigid links in your robot, so instead of having rigid joints and components, you'd use soft materials like silicone that are more akin to your skin and your own biological tissues that are more flexible and compliant. So we started making the fingers out of rubber and silicone.

And now we've been able to do things like punch through flaming boards, and I dropped it from the roof of my house 30 feet up in the air, and it survived. We put it in a dryer for 10 minutes, and it survived tumbling around in a dryer. I've arm wrestled against the para-triathlete national champion and lost. So this thing was built to survive a lot more than just hitting your hand against the side of a table.

VICTORIA: Wow, that sounds incredible. And I love that you started with a premise, and then you got feedback from your users and found a completely different problem, even though that same problem still existed [laughs] about the low cost.

DR. AADEEL: Absolutely.

VICTORIA: Wow. So taking it back a little bit more to the beginning, so you knew you always wanted to do prosthetics since you grew up in Pakistan and saw people without their limbs. Take me a little bit more from the beginning of the journey. When did you decide to start the company officially?

DR. AADEEL: And just to clarify, I was just visiting Pakistan for the summer, but I grew up and was raised here in the U.S. So I went to Loyola University Chicago for undergrad, and I got a bachelor's degree in biology there, followed by a master's in computer science. And the original plan was to actually become an MD working with patients with amputations and developing prosthetics for them.

But while I was an undergraduate student at Loyola, I took my first computer science class, and I absolutely loved it. I loved everything about coding, and programming, and engineering. And I realized that if I became a straight-up MD, I wouldn't get to do any of the cool things that I was learning in my computer science classes. And I wanted to figure out a way to combine my passions in engineering and computer science with clinical medicine and prosthetics.

And right down the street at a hospital formerly known as The Rehabilitation Institute of's now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. It's the number-one rehabilitation hospital in the U.S. for the last 31 years. They made these huge breakthroughs in mind control bionic limbs where they were doing a surgery where they would reroute your nerves to other muscles that you already have on your body. And then, when you try to imagine bending your phantom elbow or making a phantom fist, your chest muscles would contract. And then you could use those signals to then control this robotic limb that was designed by Dean Kamen that was sponsored by DARPA and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That was just absolutely incredible.

And it was this perfect mixture of engineering and clinical medicine, and it was exactly what I wanted to get into. But, as you'd mentioned, we're all about accessibility, and a $100,000 cost hand would not cut it. And so I ended up finishing a master's in computer science. I taught at Loyola for a couple of years and then went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I got another master's in electrical and computer engineering, a Ph.D. in neuroscience. And then I finished the first year of medical school before I left to run PSYONIC because it is a lot more fun building bionic limbs [laughs] than finishing medical school.

And while I was a graduate student, we started 3D printing our own prosthetic hands, and we got the chance in 2014 to go down to Quito, Ecuador, where we were working with a nonprofit organization called The Range of Motion Project. And their whole mission is to provide prosthetics to those who can't afford them in the U.S., Guatemala, and Ecuador.

And we went down there, and we were working with a patient who had lost his left hand 35 years prior due to machine gunfire from a helicopter; he was in the Ecuadorian Army. And there was a border war between Ecuador and Peru. And Juan, our patient, in front of international news stations, said that he felt as though a part of him had come back. And that was because he actually made a pinch with his left hand for the first time in 35 years.

And you have to imagine the hand at that time was three times the size of an average natural hand, adult human hand. Had wires going everywhere, breadboards, power supplies, the walls, you name it. And despite that, he said that a part of him had come back. And he actually forgot how to make a pinch with his left hand, and we had to retrain his brain by placing a mirror in front of his left side reflecting his right hand, tricking his brain into thinking that his left hand was actually there.

And he would make a pinch with both sides, and it would reactivate the muscles in his forearm on his left side. And when he said that, that's when I realized that if I stay in academia, then this just ends up as a journal paper. And if we want everyone to feel the same way that Juan did, we had to commercialize the technology. And so that's when PSYONIC was born.

VICTORIA: I love that you're working on that as someone who's from Washington, D.C., and has done a lot of work in veterans and homeless organizations and seen how life-changing getting access to limbs and regaining capability can be for people.

DR. AADEEL: Absolutely. In fact, our first user in the U.S. is a U.S. Army sergeant who lost his hand in Iraq in 2005 due to roadside bombs, Sergeant Garrett Anderson. He used a hook on a daily basis, and with our hand, he's actually able to feel his daughter's hand, which is something that he wasn't able to do with any other prosthesis. And for him to tell us that that is why we do what we do.

VICTORIA: Right. And I saw on your website that you have several patents and have talked about the advances you've been able to make in what I'm going to call the sensorimotor bionic limbs. Can you tell me a little bit more about some of the advancements you've been able to make since you decided to commercialize this?

DR. AADEEL: The first thing that usually users notice is that, and clinicians notice as well, is that the hand is the fastest bionic hand in the world. So the fingers close in about 200 milliseconds. And to put that into context, we can wink our eyes in about 300 milliseconds. So it's technically faster than the blink of an eye, which is kind of a cool statistic there. So it's super fast. And the fingers are super resistant to impact, so they're very durable. And so we've got a couple of patents on both of those items in particular.

And then there's the touch feedback aspect. So this is the only hand on the market that gives users touch feedback. And so the methods that we have to mold the fingers to enable that sensory feedback that is what our third patent is on for the hand, and it just looks really cool. It's got like this black carbon fiber on it that just looks really futuristic and bionic.

And it just gives users the confidence that this isn't something to be pitied; this is something that's really cool. And especially for our war heroes, that's something to be celebrated that I lost my hand for our country, and now I've got this really cool one that can do all of the things that my hand used to do.

VICTORIA: And I also saw that it's reimbursable by Medicare in the U.S. And I was curious if you had any lessons learned from that process for getting eligible for that.

DR. AADEEL: Yeah. And that was part of the goal from the very beginning. After we did our customer discovery process, where we figured out what the pain points are and found out that durability was one of the biggest issues, obviously, one of the other issues was the really expensive price of the other hands, and typically what we call a multi-articulated hand, so that's one where each one of the fingers move individually.

Those are only covered by the VA, so if you're in the military or workman's comp so if you had a workplace accident. And that only accounted for about 10% of the U.S. market. And what the clinicians kept telling us over and over again was that if you can get the hand covered by Medicare, then usually all the other insurance companies will follow suit, like your Blue Cross Blue Shield, your Aetna, your Kaiser, et cetera.

So that was our design goal from the beginning. So how can we hit a price point that Medicare would cover but also make this fully featured that no other hand can do any of these other things? What it primarily came down to was hitting that price point. And as long as we hit that price point, then Medicare was going to be fine with it. So we invented a lot of the manufacturing methods that we use in-house to make the hand in particular.

So we do all the silicone molding. We do all the carbon fiber work. We do all the fabric work. We do all the assembly of it in-house in our warehouse here in San Diego. And by being so vertically integrated, we're able to then iterate very quickly and make these innovations happen at a much more rapid scale so that we can get them out there faster and then help more people who need it.

VICTORIA: So you've really grown tremendously from when you first had the project, and now you have a team here in San Diego. Do you have any lessons learned for enabling your team to drive faster in that innovation?

DR. AADEEL: Yeah, the biggest thing that I feel like a lot of things come down to is just having grit. So especially with a startup, it's always going to be a roller coaster ride. And for us, I think one of the big motivating factors for us is the patients themselves when they get to do these things that they weren't able to do before.

So another one of our first patients, Tina, had just become a grandmother, and she was able to feed her granddaughter for the first time because she was able to hold the bottle with her bionic hand, The Ability Hand, and then hold her granddaughter with her natural hand and then feed her using The Ability Hand. It's, like I said, moments like that is why we do what we're doing. It gives us that motivation to work those long hours, make those deadlines so that we can help as many people as possible.

VICTORIA: Right. So you have that motivating power behind your idea, which makes a lot of sense. What else in your customer discovery sprint was surprising to you as you moved through that process?

DR. AADEEL: So there was definitely the robustness that was surprising. There was the cost that wasn't necessarily the highest priority thing, which we thought would be the highest priority. And the speed and just having to rely on visual feedback, you have to kind of look at the hand as you're doing the task that you're doing, but you have to look at it very intently. So that takes a lot of cognitive load. You have to pay attention very specifically to am I doing the right movement with my hand? In ways that you wouldn't necessarily have to do with a natural hand.

And by making the hand move so responsive as it is and move so quickly, in addition to having that touch feedback, that reduces, or at least we believe it'll reduce a lot of that cognitive load for our patients so that they don't have to be constantly monitoring exactly what the hand is doing in order to do a lot of the tasks or the activities of daily living that they're doing on a day to day basis. The whole customer discovery process drove what features we were going to focus on in actually making this hand a reality.

VICTORIA: Yeah, that makes sense. And I love hearing about what came up that surprised people. And I appreciate your commitment to that process to really drive your business idea and to solve this problem that happens to so many people in the United States. Well, how widespread is this issue? And, of course, I'm sure you're targeting more than just the United States with rollout, but...

DR. AADEEL: So, globally, there are over 10 million people with hand amputations, and 80% of them actually live in developing nations, and less than 3% have access to affordable rehabilitative care. So it's a huge need worldwide, and we want to make sure that everyone has access to the best available prosthetic devices.

VICTORIA: That makes sense. So I guess commercializing this product leads to more room, more availability across for everyone.

DR. AADEEL: Absolutely. And interesting thing about that, too, is that as we were developing these, the hand in particular, we've optimized it for humans to do human tasks. And we have a programming interface that we put on it that allows researchers to control each one of the fingers like you control the speed, the position, and the force from each one of those fingers as well as you can stream all of the touch sensors like over Bluetooth or over a USB connection, and then also the location of each one of those fingers as well.

A lot of robotics researchers who are building humanoid robots and robot arms to do other tasks like manufacturing and robotic surgery and things like that have been purchasing our hand too. So notably, for example, NASA and Meta, so Facebook Meta, have purchased our hands, and NASA is putting it on a humanoid astronaut robot, which hopefully will eventually go into space. And then, on Earth, they'd be able to control it and then manipulate objects in space.

And it's opened up an entirely new market, but the critical thing here is that it's the exact same hand that the humans are getting that the robots are getting. And what this allows us to do is just expand our volume of production and our sales so that we can actually further drive down the costs and the pricing for the human side of things as well.

So if we're talking about places like India, or Pakistan, or Guatemala, or Ecuador where there are no government incentives in place to reimburse at a rate that they might in the U.S., then we can actually get the price point to one that's actually affordable in those areas as well. And I'm really excited about those prospects.

VICTORIA: That's so cool that future robot astronauts will be financing people who have no ability [laughs] to go into space or anything like that. That's a cool business idea. I wonder, when did that happen for you, or what was that like when you realized that there was this other potential untapped market for robotic limbs?

DR. AADEEL: It's interesting. It was always in the back of our minds because, as I was a Ph.D. student, I was in the Ph.D. group that focused on robotics, in particular more so than prosthetics. And I was the first one in the group to actually kind of have the prosthetic spin on things. And so I had an idea of where the market was for the robotic side of things. And I had some connections as well.

And so I was actually giving a talk at Georgia Tech early last year. The Director of the Georgia Tech Robotics Institute, Dr. Seth Hutchinson, he was telling me that...he was like, "You should go to the big robotics conference, ICRA, because people are going to be like...absolutely love this product for their robots." And we were just like, huh, we never considered that.

And so we decided to go, and it was just absolutely nuts. We've had researchers from all over the world being like, "How can I get this hand?" And compared to a lot of the robotic hands that are out there, even on the robotic side, this is a much lower price point than what they've been dealing with. And by solving a lot of the problems on the human side, like durability, and sensory feedback, and dexterity, and the pricing, it actually solved a lot of the problems on the robotic side as well. So I was just like...after we had gone to that conference, we realized that, yeah, we can actually make this work as well.

VICTORIA: That's really cool. And it sounds like tapping into this robotics market and networking really worked for you. What else about your market research or strategy seem to be effective in your business growth?

DR. AADEEL: This is interesting as well. So half of our sales actually come from social media, which for a medical device company is usually unheard of. [laughs] Because usually the model is, for medical devices, where you have a group of sales reps located across the regions that you're selling and so across the U.S. And they would visit each one of the clinics, and then they would work with the clinicians directly in getting these on the patients. That usually accounts for like 99% of sales. And so for us, for half of them to come from social media, it was a goal that we had set out to, but it was also surprising that that accounted for so much of our volumes and our revenue.

The way we set it up was that we wanted to make videos of our hand that highlighted things that our hand could do that were novel and unique. And so, for example, we wanted to highlight the durability of the hand as well as the dexterity and the touch feedback. And so some of the first videos that we made were like arm wrestling against a bionic hand. And what's cool about that is that the general public just found that very interesting in general.

But also, when a clinician and a patient sees that, wow, this hand can actually withstand the forces of an actual arm wrestling match, then they're also just as impressed. And the same thing with punching through three wooden boards that we set on fire; if it can handle that, then it can handle activities of daily living. General public seizes, and they're just like, "Whoa, that's so cool."

But then clinicians and the patients they see that, and they were like, "My prosthetic hand couldn't do this before." And so then they contact us, and we're like, "How can we get your hand?" And then we'll either put them in contact with a clinician, or we'll work with one of the clinicians that they are already working with then go through their insurance that way. And so it's just been a really exciting and fun way to generate, like, expand our market and generate sales that we didn't necessarily think was going to be a viable way from the start.

VICTORIA: Right. I totally get it. I mean, I want one, and both my hands still work.


thoughtbot is thrilled to announce our own incubator launching this year. If you are a non-technical founding team with a business idea that involves a web or mobile app, we encourage you to apply for our eight-week program.

We'll help you move forward with confidence in your team, your product vision, and a roadmap for getting you there. Learn more and apply at, that's

VICTORIA: Have you ever seen someone rock climb with the prosthetic hand?

DR. AADEEL: Not yet, but that is something that is definitely on our docket.

VICTORIA: Okay, well, we need to do it. Since we're both in San Diego, I can help you. [laughs]

DR. AADEEL: Sweet. I love it. [laughs]

VICTORIA: Yeah, we can figure that out because there are, especially in the climbing gyms, there are usually groups that come in and climb with prosthetic limbs on a regular basis since it's a kind of a surprisingly accessible sport. [laughs]

DR. AADEEL: So one of the great things about being here in San Diego is that there's like a ton of incredible resources for building prosthetics and then for users of them as well. So the Challenged Athletes Foundation is located 10 minutes from us. So we're located in Scripps Ranch. And the Challenged Athletes Foundation they're like over in the Sorrento Valley area. They hold the para-triathlon every year.

And so we just went to their event a couple of months ago, and it was absolutely incredible. And so we've got like a five-year goal of making an ability leg. So we have The Ability Hand right now. So the ability leg, we want to actually be able to perform a triathlon, so run, bike, and swim with the leg. And I think that would be a phenomenal goal. And all the pieces are here in San Diego.

We got the military hospital, and so we've got the veteran population. We've got the Challenged Athletes Foundation. We've got UCSD, and they're incredible at engineering. We've got two prosthetic schools right around LA, so Loma Linda University in California State University, Dominguez Hills. And there are only 11 in the entire nation, and two of them just happen to be right around here.

It's a med tech hub. There's like a bunch of med tech companies and both startups and huge ones like NuVasive that are in the area. And it's a huge engineering place, too, with Qualcomm. And so we want to bring all of those resources together. And it's my goal to turn San Diego into the bionics capital of the world, where people from all over the world are coming here to have the most advanced devices ever created.

VICTORIA: Oh, I love that idea. And you just moved to San Diego a few years ago. Is that right?

DR. AADEEL: Actually, six months ago, so it's very new for us.

VICTORIA: Six months? [laughter] Well, you sound like me when I moved to San Diego. I was like; it's great here. [laughter]

DR. AADEEL: Well, I hope you still find it to be great. [laughs]

VICTORIA: Yeah, I love it. I've been here for two years now. And, yes, there's more to it than just the weather being good all the time. [laughter] There's a lot here.

DR. AADEEL: [laughs] It doesn't hurt, though, right?

VICTORIA: Yeah. And, I mean, I love that I can still do my networking events outdoors all year long, so going on hikes and stuff versus being indoors in the winter. But I find it fascinating that San Diego has just so much biotech all around, and I will happily support how I can [laughs] turning it into a bionic limb capital. I think that's a great idea.

Well, so I wanted to get back...we're talking about the future right now. I wanted to ask about building your team. So you started the company almost seven years ago, and you've grown the team a lot since then. Did you have any essential principles or values that you started with when you were building out your team?

DR. AADEEL: Yeah. So when we were first hiring, I was still a Ph.D. student when I started the company. Our first employee was actually my undergraduate student. He's currently our Director of Engineering, Jesse Cornman. And we specifically were recruiting people that did stuff outside of the lab, so the electrical engineers and the mechanical engineers that we initially hired. We wanted to make sure that it wasn't just like the university projects that they were working on.

And we would find a lot of our early people from like car team so like this was like building like a solar car, so Illini Solar Car was one of our places where we'd get a lot of our early employees as well as the electrical vehicle concept team and design, build, fly, and these student organizations where they had like competitions, and they had to build real, tangible things to compete in with. And the thing is that those are the people who do this stuff for fun, and you learn the most when you're having fun doing this stuff. And so we would always look for that stuff in particular.

And there were some litmus tests that we'd have to be able to weed out very quickly what people know what. And so for electrical engineers, we would always ask if they know surface mount soldering because it's not like your typical soldering on a perf board or even like using a breadboard. It's like you have a circuit board, and you have to solder these very small components on there. And if you know how to solder those small components, you typically know how to code them as well. So they have some embedded systems background as well and some PCB design experience as well. And so that was like a quick litmus test that we use for the electrical engineers.

For the mechanical engineers, it was typically if they knew how to do surface modeling. And so we would ask them, "How would you make the palm of a hand where you got these complex structures and these complex surfaces that have different geometries and different curvature?" And if they were able to do a surface modeling, then we knew that they'd be able to CAD that up pretty quickly. They probably have some sort of 3D printing experience from that as well, and that they can just rapidly iterate and prototype on the devices.

And so that worked really, really well. And so we were able to get a lot of bright engineers who early on in the company...and many who were student interns at the time that eventually even went on to Microsoft and Google or some of the students went to MIT and places like that. And we were very fortunate to be in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's ecosystem, where it was just one of the best engineering schools in the world to develop this kind of stuff.

VICTORIA: That's great. So you had really specific skills that you needed. [laughs] And you kind of knew the type of work or an experience that led to that. As you've expanded your team and you're building a culture of collaboration, how do you set expectations with how you all work together?

DR. AADEEL: As a startup, we all wear many, many hats. So my job, I feel like, is to fill in all the gaps. And so some days, I might be doing marketing; some days, I might be visiting a clinic and doing sales. Other times I'm working with the engineering team to make sure that we're on track over there. And it's like all this stuff in between.

And so being able to work cohesively like that and put on those many hats so that you know every part of the process from the marketing and sales sides but also the engineering and operations side, I think that's really allowed us to get to the point where we have by doing all these different functions together.

VICTORIA: That makes sense. So you are all located in San Diego now, so you have to be in person to work on robot hands?

DR. AADEEL: Yeah, we found that it was much easier to build a physical object in person than it was to do things remotely. At the beginning of COVID, we actually did try to, like, you know, we moved 3D printers out into people's houses and the manufacturing equipment. And then I remember just to put together a power switch that usually took like one hour to do in the lab. It took us a day and a half because one person had the circuit board, the other person had the enclosure, the other person had the thing to program it. And then each thing depended on each other. So you had to keep carting that small piece back and forth between houses, and it was just a nightmare to do that.

And so after a couple of months, we ended up moving back into the offices and manufacturing there with staggered work hours or whatever. And at that point, we were just like, okay, this is much more efficient when we're all in person. And honestly, a lot of our best ideas have come from just me sitting here and then just walking over to one of the engineers and being like, "Hey, what do you think of this idea?" And it's a lot harder to do when you're all remote, right?

VICTORIA: That makes sense. Yeah, just the need to physically put pieces together [laughs] as a group makes it hard to be fully remote. And you get a lot of those ideas flowing when you're in person. What is on the horizon for you? What are you most excited about in your upcoming feature set?

DR. AADEEL: Like I said, one of the reasons why we moved here was to work with the military hospital, and so some of the work that we're doing with them is particularly exciting. The way you typically wear these prosthetic you'll have muscle sensors that are embedded in's like a shell that goes around your residual limb. We call it the socket. Think about it as like a shoe for your residual limb.

And the thing is, as you're wearing this throughout the day, it starts to get sweaty. It starts to get uncomfortable. Things shift around. Your signals don't control the hand as well because of all these changes and everything. And with the military hospital, we're working on something called osseointegration. So instead of having this socket that's molded to your residual limb that you shove your arm into, you have a titanium implant that goes inside your bones and then comes out of your body, and then you directly attach the hand to your bones like a limb naturally should be.

And then, on top of that, instead of using these muscles sensors on the outside of your body, we're actually working on implanted electrodes with some of our collaborators. For example, at University of Chicago, they're doing brain implants to control prosthetic limbs. And a company in Dallas called Nerves Incorporated that's working with the University of Minnesota and UT Southwestern; they're doing nerve implants in your forearm and in your upper arm to control prosthetic limbs.

And with those, you get much more fine control, so it's not like you're just controlling different grips, like preset grips in the hand, but you're actually doing individual finger control. And then, when you touch the finger, it's actually stimulating your nerves to make it feel like it's coming from your hand that you no longer have anymore. And this is where we're heading with all of this stuff in the future.

And so we built The Ability Hand to work with clinically available systems now, like sockets, and muscle sensors, and vibration motors that are all outside of the body. But then also, when these future technologies come up that are more invasive that are directly implanted on your nerves as well as into your bones as well, we're really excited about those prospects coming out in the horizon.

VICTORIA: That's really cool. [laughs] I mean, that would be really life-changing for a lot of people, I'm sure, to have that ability to really control your fingers and get that extra comfort as well. How do you manage quality into your process, especially when you're getting invasive and putting in nerve implants? What kind of testing and other types of things do you all do?

DR. AADEEL: With The Ability Hand itself, there was actually an FDA Class I exempt device, meaning that we didn't have to go through the formal approval process that you typically do. And that was primarily because it's attached to your residual limb as opposed to going invasive. But with going invasive, with our clinical partners they're actually doing FDA clinical trials right now. And so they've gone through a lot of those processes. We're starting to enroll some of our patients who are using The Ability Hand to get these implanted electrodes. We're kind of navigating that whole process ourselves right now too.

So I think that was one of the reasons why we moved to San Diego, to work with and leverage a lot of the expertise from people who've done it already, from the med tech device companies that are big that have gone through those processes and can guide us through that process as well. So we're excited to be able to leverage those resources in order to streamline these clinical trial processes so that we can get these devices out there more quickly.

VICTORIA: That's very cool. I'm super excited to hear about that and to learn more about PSYONIC. Is there anything else you want to share with our audience today as a final takeaway?

DR. AADEEL: Absolutely. So in order to make all this stuff happen, we're actually in the middle of raising a round right now. Our biggest issue right now is actually that we've got more demand than we can produce, so we're working on scaling our manufacturing here in San Diego. So we're in the middle of an equity crowdfunding round.

And we're all about accessibility, so about making our hand accessible to as many people as possible. So we were like, why don't we make the company accessible as well? And one of the most beautiful things about doing this as an equity crowdfunding round is our patients actually have invested in the company as well. And so it's like, we're making these devices for them, and then they get to be a part of it as well. And it's just this beautiful synergy that I couldn't have asked for anything more out of a crowdfunding campaign.

And so we've raised over 750k already on StartEngine. And you can find out more and invest for as little as $250 at, so that's And the other thing I was going to mention, especially Victoria since you're in San Diego as well, is that I happily give tours to anyone who is in the area. So if anyone wants to see how we build all these bionic hands and just a cool robotics startup in general, we'd be happy to have you come visit us.

VICTORIA: That's very cool. I'll have to connect with you later and schedule a tour myself. [laughs] That's wonderful. I'm excited to hear all the things you're working on and hope to see you more in the San Diego community coming up. And we'll share links to the funding page and other information about PSYONIC in our show notes.

You can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at If you have questions or comments, email us at And you can find me on Mastodon at Victoria Guido.

And this podcast is brought to by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore. Thank you for listening. See you next time.

ANNOUNCER: This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot, your expert strategy, design, development, and product management partner. We bring digital products from idea to success and teach you how because we care. Learn more at

Support Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots