Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Companies on the forefront of emerging technologies look to connect with early adopters.
There are few groups who are more ardent supporters of new technologies than gamers. The group powerfully demonstrated its collective influence in 2012 with the launch of the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset. The company took to Kickstart in hopes of raising $250,000. To the surprise of the industry, gamers, craving enhanced VR technologies, raised $2.4 million to support the groundbreaking product.
FANTM hopes to ignite that same type of user enthusiasm with its Human Computer Interface (HCI) technology.
The Madison-based company, founded by Dr. Finn Kuusisto and Ezra Boley, uses electromyography (EMG) to drive an HCI product. It sounds complicated, and it is. But this “deep tech” is the driving force behind the technology these computer scientists are creating, which has revolutionary implications for the medical and defense industries.
And, of course, the computer gaming industry.
FANTM’s technology measures the electrical activity conducted when human muscles move, and translates those bio-potential signals into a computer command. An example of a current technology that uses HCI is the VR glove. The gloves are a promising advance, but the bulky, expensive gloves cannot be used by those with missing digits or disabilities that impact the movement of the hand.
As an advancement to first-wave VR technologies, like the gloves, FANTM has developed patch-sized sensors that affix to the muscles in the forearm to mimic the movements of the hand. This allows users a greater ability to nimbly move and use their fine motor skills to guide the computer’s actions.
The company plans to take this technology to market in the form of VR and extended reality (XR) game controllers. The sensitive adapters in the gaming equipment “will make games feel more immersive,” Kuusisto said. When launched, FANTM estimates a pair of controllers will have a retail cost of $350.
While gamers might be the initial customers for FANTM, the company is actively exploring opportunities with the U.S. military and in the healthcare industry.
Interest in the startup, founded in September 2020, is high. FANTM recently placed second in the Information Technology category of the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan contest.
The young company is looking at a variety of ways to raise capital. Grants factor heavily in FANTM’s future funding plans. The team currently sells logo mugs and tees as well as circuit boards for hobbyists interested in exploring the novel technology. FANTM is also considering crowdfunding and VC funding options for a future fundraising round.
Kuusisto is certain EMG controlled technology is on its way. The only question remaining is what company will bring a highly effective version of this technology to market first. FANTM plans to be the first company to reach the finish line.
To learn more about FANTM, connect with them here.