Montréal-based Haply Robotics has secured $4.8 million CAD ( $3.5 million USD) in a seed round of funding led by BDC Capital’s Deep Tech Venture Fund.
Haply plans to use these funds to develop its haptic technology further for medical training and gamification, while also improving its robotic control and 3D interface. The round was also backed by an angel investor through their holding company, Spiritus Engineering.
“The device’s portability allows doctors or medical students to remotely collaborate.” – Colin Gallacher, Haply
Haptic technology is used to transmit touch feedback through vibrations, sensations, and motion. When used in robotic or virtual surgical training, for example, users can feel what it’s like to “cut tissue, drill into the bone, or excise fat.” In virtual medical simulations, touch feedback adds an important tactile dimension to the training, while also eliminating any risk.
This round of funding will focus on developing Haply’s portable haptic device, the Inverse3. According to Haply co-founder Colin Gallacher, the Inverse3’s portability makes it unique in the market and also more affordable. Conversely, Gallacher claimed similar technology tends to be much larger and more costly. He added that the Inverse3 is high performing as well.
“We can provide precise analytics about how a user is performing a procedural training task, how they compare to expert users, and how much they’ve improved over time,” Gallacher said. “The device’s portability allows doctors or medical students to remotely collaborate, and maximizes accessibility as they’re able to take them from hospital to home in a backpack.”
In terms of gamification, the Inverse3 already works a lot like a game controller, with users’ hand gestures manipulating the device to interact with virtual environments. But Haply is also building video games for the medical field with partner FundamentalVR, a United Kingdom-based company whose multi-user simulations combine VR and haptic interactions.
Haply also plans to fine-tune its robotic control and 3D content. In practical terms, Gallacher explained, this means making the Inverse3 device much more precise in how it transmits the user’s motion, for example, removing hand tremors or scaling certain movements. Haply is also looking to develop industrial applications, which might entail remotely operating machinery. The 3D content, for its part, describes the visual environment users interact with while using Haply’s device.
“The future of content creation and consumption will be focused on making virtual experiences as immersive and photo realistic as possible,” Gallacher said.
Haply’s ultimate goal is to make haptic technology accessible, and Gallacher explained that this round of funding will help the company make its device more technologically ready.
“This includes improvements in processing and graphics power, as well as reduction in processor size,” he said. “This has allowed us to develop a device that’s a fraction of the size but even more powerful and precise than some of the biggest players in this field.”
Haply was founded in 2016 by Gallacher, Steve Ding, and Felix Desourdy. Its team combines the efforts of international engineers, designers, and specialists in various fields such as robotics, game development, and electronics.
Since its founding, Haply was awarded $750,000 from the federal government’s Innovative Solutions Canada haptic challenge program, and received support from the McGill University Health Centre in the form of $500,000. It also raised $500,000 USD from an undisclosed angel investor in 2022.