Technical.ly Baltimore

Business

Jun. 24, 2014 8:47 am

Hunched over a laptop right now? A Baltimore physical therapist has something for you

His back and neck support device was funded on Kickstarter last week.

Clarifications: Only the prototype of The ARC was 3D printed; the manufactured devices will be plastic extruded. The 8- to 12-week manufacturing process does not include assembly. Due to a typographical error, the funding goal was misstated.

An office worker hunched over a computer, a driver on a long road trip, a gamer in a marathon “Call of Duty” session.

Gene Shirokobrod says his new product could serve all of them.

The Baltimore physical therapist is one of the brains behind The ARC, the Kickstarter project that was officially funded last week, crossing its $20,000 goal with the help of more than 650 backers.

The arc-shaped device is supposed to rest behind the back, where it can provide back and neck relief. It can be used with any chair or even under one’s neck while lying down, Shirokobrod said.

“One, you can tailor it to yourself, and two … there are lumbar supports,” he said. “It puts you right where you need to be for your neck and your back. Your body’s designed to move so with The ARC you can do exercises, you can do different stretches.”

The idea started last July, when Shirokobrod met engineer Corey Fleischer at the Baltimore Foundery. Shirokobrod had been rolling the idea around at his clinic for some time. The pair then started designs and early tests.

“We used it on ourselves, we used it on friends and family, then we spread it to acquaintances,” Shirokobrod said. “It was incredible to see how receptive people were. One of the reasons I wanted to create something was one of the most common things I hear from patients … kind of jokingly, ‘Can I take you home with me?’”

Shirokobrod said he did not ask any of his patients to test the device. However, the Kickstarter campaign was, in part, a successful attempt to research how much demand there was for the service.

Shirokobrod said manufacturing plans are being finalized with a California plant to produce the device. After the eight- to 12-week manufacturing process Shirokobrod and other organizers will hand-assemble up to 4,000 of the devices at home. They will be available to backers and the general public in late fall, he said.

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Tyler Waldman

Tyler Waldman is lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. A Towson University graduate and former local editor for Patch.com, Tyler has also written and photographed for publications including the Baltimore Brew, Howard County Times and Towson Times. He lives in Charles Village.

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