Bionik Laboratories, maker of the ARKE lower body exoskeleton has entered in a merger agreement to acquire Interactive Motion Technologies, a spin-off from MIT. Interactive Motion Technologies (IMT) specializes in wearables and exoskeletons for neurorehabilitation. IMT focuses mostly in upper body rehabilitation. Their main product line is the InMotion series Arm, Wrist and Hand rehabilitation devices in addition to a knee exoskeleton. The products offered by IMT most closely resemble those of Hocoma. IMT has been a quiet company that has rarely made the headlines, but the Exoskeleton Report team has heard nothing but good things about the company over the last year. IMT was founded in 1998 in Watertown Massachusetts, making it one of the oldest companies in the field.
We wrote an overview of Bionik Laboratories just two months ago. Bionik Laborites (BNKL) is looking to complement its lower extremities powered exoskeleton research with upper body devices. If the acquisition is approved, BNKL will become one of the largest providers of rehabilitation robotics with both upper and lower body solutions. If this Canadian based company still has an appetite for acquisitions, it may also purchase some of the smaller lower body exoskeleton companies in the same country such as Active Bionics.
There are currently around 30 to 50 companies that are engaged in developing exoskeleton technology (see list). As any new industry, many of the smaller companies will either shut down or be consolidated into larger ones. This is the first time that a dedicated wearable robotics company is attempting to merge with another one. In December of last year Ekso Bionics acquired Equipois LLC, but their ZeroG arms were mostly attached to stationary objects at the time. The fact that something like this is already happening speaks volumes as to how quickly the industry is starting to mature.
The possible Bionik Laboratories merger with Interactive Motion Technologies will catapult the company as one of the premier exoskeleton businesses. It will also make it one of the few to offer both upper and lower body wearable robotics rehabilitation solutions.
You can find the full press release, which goes into extensive detail, on the Bionik Labs website: