6Degrees: Making Smart Devices More Accessible

By Mark Ogilbee posted 01-26-2023 06:58 PM


An AgeTech Collaborative™ startup participant, 6Degrees offers an award-winning, revolutionary wearable that enables people with dexterity loss to gain independence via touch-free control of smart devices. The fashionable, smart wearable translates motion into commands such as swipe, zoom and point, and the device’s embedded AI adapts to an individual’s capabilities, such as tremors and limited range of movement. 

We sat down with Miri Berger, co-founder and CEO, to learn more about 6Degrees and their device.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 


Can you give us an overview of 6Degrees? 

6Degrees is a company I founded with my husband, who is our CTO. We’ve created an embedded algorithm that sits inside of a wearable device called MyMove. It analyzes the motion of the person wearing the device, which can be worn on the wrist, upper arm, leg or prosthetic. Once it has analyzed the individual’s motion, the device connects via Bluetooth to any smart device, phone, computer or tablet, which allows the user to control that device using their motion. 

So if you’ve lost the use of your hands or your fine motor skills for any reason, MyMove allows you to tap, swipe, zoom, scroll and draw on your device. It will even allow you to control gaming devices like an Oculus or an Xbox. 

Also, the device corrects the results if necessary, which means that if you have a tremor, for example, the motion will be smooth on the screen. 


What does the device look like? 

It’s a wearable that looks like a watch, but you can change the strap so it can be situated on the upper arm, over clothing or on a prosthetic. The band is like a magnetic metal strap, so you don’t need any fine motor skills to put it on — you just put your arm out, and it will snap closed. 


What inspired you to develop this technology? 

I met my husband shortly after he’d suffered nerve injury to his leg from being a paratrooper in the Israeli army. For all the time we’ve known each other, he’s been going through recovery. And we’ve learned that with the pain of nerve injury comes a loss of independence, because you have to rely on other people to do very simple things. 

Fast-forward 15 years, and we’re both working on Master’s degrees in the U.S. He was running an electrical engineering lab, and I’m doing industrial design. We'd talk with other veterans who couldn’t use devices or knew people who couldn’t because of nerve damage, a tremor, or other conditions. I also had a teacher who was an amputee and wasn't using his computer with his prosthetic. And we wanted to create a solution for them. 


Startups often face headwinds that they don’t necessarily expect. Has that been true with 6Degrees, and how have you met those challenges? 

First of all, this is a passion project for us. We’re happy to be doing it, so it doesn’t matter what the hardships are. This is close to our hearts, and that gets you through development and the initial steps. 

This is my husband’s third startup, but it’s my first. When we first started, we were doing everything ourselves. But there are things you learn as you go along, like how to communicate what you’re trying to do, how to hire people, how to raise funding. Also, when you’re starting a company, there are certain things you need to do. But as you grow, those things change. Early on, doing user experience was close to my heart, but now managing the company, fundraising and expanding require a different skill set. So we’ve had to learn how to adapt and expand our problem-solving skills. 


MyMove sounds like a remarkable device that can be useful for people of any age. Are there any particular benefits for people who are 50-plus? 

Conditions like Parkinson’s, arthritis or a stroke can affect motion, and the elderly population will experience those in greater numbers. And it’s very common for older adults to want to use their phone, tablet or computer to do things like stay in touch with relatives, join an organization or even get a new job. So having the ability to use devices to assist those things is valuable. 


Is there anything else you’d like to share about 6Degrees? 

We’re excited about a pilot we just completed in Israel with the largest hospital in the Middle East. We’re reducing phantom limb pain in lower-limb amputees with our device. Users put our device on the lower limb, then they put on an Oculus, and when they look down, they see two full legs. When they swing their leg, they see a full leg swinging, and if they kick a virtual ball, they’ll see it and feel it. That reduces the phantom pain, and we’ve seen amazing results. 

Now we’re looking for physical therapists who can give us feedback in the U.S. for development, treatment and rehabilitation using this technology. So this is an open call for anyone who’s interested in partnering with us, or in giving us their perspective on how this could be applied to the patients they work with. 

We also invite anyone to get in touch with us via our website. We’re really open to talking. We got a lot of help early in our journey, so if anyone is doing something similar and we can help out, we’re happy to do that.