Wicab Looks to China, Readies Updated Wearable Vision Device

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an exit or restroom sign, triggering a special vibration on the tongue, Beckman says. “The direction that we’re taking with the BrainPort technology is similar to the driverless car, in that we think blind people want to stay in the lane when they’re on a sidewalk, read and interpret signs, and avoid obstacles,” he says. “And so we intend over time to develop these mobile applications to work in conjunction with the technology, so we’re going well beyond what you display on the tongue, and provide much more features and benefits.”

Wicab isn’t spending much on promoting the current version of the BrainPort, instead planning to push the newer version harder, Beckman says. That’s the one it will seek CMS reimbursement for in the U.S., and the one it will submit for approval in China. The FDA will also need to sign off on the updated BrainPort device, but Beckman says he thinks that should be a much quicker process than the initial market approval because the new features don’t affect the safety of the device. But, as Wicab knows from experience, government approvals can take longer than anticipated.

With the new China investment and a $975,000 bridge financing round raised in February, Wicab has enough capital to fund operations for the next couple of years, Beckman says. If it can pick up enough sales momentum on its own, he thinks Wicab could become an attractive acquisition target for either a global medical device firm or a big consumer technology company.

“We’ll have to explore both pathways, but it totally makes sense for us to be acquired rather than to try to build a commercial channel,” Beckman says. “I think right now to establish some degree of traction, and show that we can build sales and commercialize our device profitably, will go a long way toward attracting the right partner.”

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