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Prof. Dr. Kai Oberländer, Co-Founder and CEO of Motesque – Interview Series

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Prof. Dr. Kai Oberländer, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Motesque. Motesque has a vision to revolutionize the world of human motion by creating and developing pioneering technology to transform human motion into healthcare, e-commerce, and retail solutions. They want to keep people healthy for as long as possible and improve their quality of life through biomechanical solutions.

How did you get into the field of biomechanics?

Back in the late 2000s, I studied mathematics and sports science, and by combining these subjects I found my passion. It fascinated me that joints allow segments attached to them to move along circular paths. However, human locomotion itself is more of a linear motion. So, I started reading a book by a leading authority in the field of biomechanics, Robert McNeill Alexander, about locomotion, and that led me to biomechanics.

Could you discuss the genesis story behind Motesque?

I moved to Cologne to start my PhD on the health status of the knee after ACL reconstruction. Working with internationally known colleagues, I was positively influenced by looking at human locomotion from a human perspective rather than a mathematical one. However, in this orthopedic environment, it is difficult to predict the outcome of a surgery. It is hard to objectively judge whether you will be able to return to sports or whether you will need an orthotic during the recovery process. But that did not exist at the time. So, we started to develop an IMU-sensor technology that makes it easier to decide whether you can move effectively in everyday life and do sports again. And that was the beginning of Motesque.

Why is motion data the “new gold” in health-tech and AI?

AI generally thrives on data. The more the better. Especially in health tech, motion data combined with AI opens up possibilities that have never existed before. The good thing for patients is that this data is obtained using non-invasive methods. They allow for accurate diagnosis of health conditions. At Motesque, we are able to capture motion data and transform it into personalized recommendations that help assess healthcare and sports related situations. These judgments, based on individual data, are valuable because they help patients walk, run, and exercise healthier to avoid or recover from injury.

How do locomotion characteristics help to predict a person’s health future?

The first step is the diagnosis of locomotion characteristics with sophisticated methods. If a person’s motion characteristics are at a certain level, we can predict in which direction this will develop. For example, if he or she has stage three osteoarthritis in the knee, it is very likely that he or she will suffer worse knee joint wear in the future. For the data analysis, evaluation, and finally recommendation for the right product, we need a lot of data, mathematics, and a good understanding of biomechanics.

What are the different types of machine learning algorithms that are used?

With products like our 3D avatar technology, we use computer vision including both classic and modern deep learning techniques. We use RNNs for our sequential data, along with regression analysis. Optimization techniques like gradient descent are used for parameter tuning and complex numerical simulations. For big data we use clustering techniques and regression analysis to gain more insight into products and make recommendations.

Could you discuss how recommendations for orthotics and prosthetics are made?

We have developed a mobile gait analysis system to help each individual find the most appropriate orthotic and prosthetic fitting. The IMU sensors can be easily attached to the patient’s body. These sensors capture motion data that provides objective information about the footprint, body center of gravity, joint angles and other parameters. All data is then analyzed by biomechanical models and algorithms to ensure the best individual recommendation.

Could you discuss how this technology is used with running shoes?

While the customer is running on a treadmill, high-tech sensors are attached to the customer’s body and shoes that capture very accurate and reliable data of gait and posture. A pre-selection of shoes is then analyzed and compared based on the customer’s running style. The shoe with the best characteristics, which meets the needs and running style of the customer, is recommended.

Another sport that this application is used in is bicycling, could you provide some details on this?

This is an application that we developed mainly for the e-commerce sector. It also provides individual fitting recommendations but as it is used online, we create a 3D avatar based on body sizes and proportions that virtually tests products such as bicycles in the online store. Within seconds this solution recommends the best product for each consumer. We recently announced that SIGNA Sports United, the leading sports e-commerce and tech platform, and Motesque, embarked in a strategic partnership. Together we’re launching the first ever biomechanical AI-based virtual bike fitting engine for online bike shopping. Our bike solution uses the 3D avatar to help select the best frame size and configuration for individual body proportions and seating position.

How does Motesque help to improve sleep by recommending mattresses?

Unlike decision tree-based recommendations that measure height, weight and sleeping position, our visionary AI-based biomechanical technology combines personal data and pictures of each customer, by creating a three-dimensional avatar of our customers which interacts with different mattresses through our physics and biomechanical engine.

Taking several parameters into account, our software identifies the curvature of the spine from the side, maximum sinking depth, torso tilt, and more. In the end the consumer gets the recommendation of the mattress which fits best his or her anatomical characteristics and sleeping behavior.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Motesque?

We believe that our solutions, which are scientifically based and correspond individually for product recommendations, will become the future way of responding to individuals’ needs. As a global company, we are already well positioned to continue innovating on this path to offer all end customers or patients with a complete solution to prevent injuries and to improve their overall health.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Motesque.

Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital assets, digital securities and investing. He is a founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council.