A Baltimore-based medical technology company cofounded by renowned Johns Hopkins neuroscientist John Krakauer that creates video games offering a new form of neurological recovery was acquired by Switzerland-based braintech company Mindmaze, the companies said.
Krakauer founded Neuro Motor Innovations along with computer scientist Omar Ahmad, software architect Promit Roy and Hoyt David Morgan, who is CEO.
NMI created a unique form of animation called “neuroanimation” and seeks to create high-level video games. Its technology includes game therapy software, and hardware control devices for hand, arm, foot and face, according to its website. Its video game therapy combines neuroscience, AI and dynamic movement.
Along with combining art and tech, the games have a broader goal to help improve cognitive and motor functions in patients with neurological diseases. Stroke was an early focus for the team. It can also be applied for healthy aging, Krakauer said.
“It has long been known in the scientific community that enrichment – stimulating the brain by enhancing the physical and social environment – is important for neurological recovery in animal models, but there is no such equivalent in clinical settings for humans,” Krakauer said in a statement. “Our vision is to design a new platform that creates an immersive and enriching environment that integrates with existing MindMaze technology to deliver effective movement and cognitive therapy for many neurological diseases and injuries. The goal is to build a universal platform that can accelerate brain repair.”
With the acquisition, Mindmaze acquired a perpetual license to the technology, and will continue to develop the platform. Mindmaze has a neurological therapy platform that utilizes virtual reality, and has FDA approval for patients in the U.S. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“This acquisition of the Neuro Motor Innovations technology and the team is a very significant deal for MindMaze and one that offers huge promise for patients with neurological diseases and injuries,” Tej Tadi, founder and CEO of MindMaze said in a statement. “The integration of NMI’s technology into our platform creates the first multi-stage platform for neurological therapy.”
The company will continue to operate in Baltimore and maintain a close relationship with Johns Hopkins. Krakauer will serve as Chief Medical and Scientific Advisor to the company. The company’s eight-member team will continue working from an office in Fells Point under the name MSquare, Krakauer said. The team previously tapped into local talent from Hopkins as well as MICA, and wants to continue building in Baltimore, Krakauer said.
Krakauer arrived at Johns Hopkins in 2010, and formed the Brain, Learning, Animation, Movement lab, or BLAM! It sought to bring together designers, engineers, computer programmers and artists. Developing the video games under a group called the Kata Project, the team developed an iOs game drawing on experience watching dolphins at the National Aquarium. Its work on treatment for stroke patients with a game requiring users to control the movements of a simulated dolphin with a robotic arm was featured in publications including The New Yorker.
“You’re not thinking about your arm’s limitations,” Krakauer told writer Karen Russell in the piece. “You’re learning to control a dolphin, In the process, you’re going to experiment with many movements you’d never try in conventional therapy.”
NMI launched last year as the team looked to commercialize and scale its work.-30-