From Ball Gowns to Robotic Suits: One Fashion Designer's Journey

Chloe and the team at Human in Motion Robotics

Today's blog post comes direct from Chloë. No one can really speak to the journey of her newest venture better than she can! So ... here she is:

Over the past year and a half I’ve posted a few interesting pics that might have made you wonder, "What is she up to these days?"

If you watched the news recently or saw The Vancouver Sun, you may even have seen my smiling face connected to a new  technology company called Human In Motion Robotics, Inc.

Why? It’s  because I’m now designing everything from ball gowns to wearable robotic suits!

Yes,  you read that right, a wearable robotic suit.

Chloe and Human in Motion Robotics in the Vancouver Sun

Chloë and the team from Human in Motion Robotics Inc as recently showcased in The Vancouver Sun.

As many of you know by now, I suffered a spinal cord injury in mid-2015 (for those who want the details, click for the blog post). I’ve been confined to a wheelchair ever since.

You can imagine how shocked I was by my sudden paralysis. I went from being a busy entrepreneur with a thriving fashion design company to being unable to get out of a chair!

But shock aside, I've always been an inquisitive person who likes problem solving, so when the best doctors in the country told me I would never walk again, I thought I would do my own research ... thank you very much!

Chloe is inquisitive and determined to attend events, ask questions and find solutions

Chloë combines her passion for design and for collaboration; attending events, asking questions, seeking solutions and often helping to bridge gaps between cultures and understanding.

That's when I discovered the exoskeleton, a wearable robotic device that can stand a person up and make them walk again

I said to my husband Gabe, “Look, I will walk again! Can you please order me one of these from Amazon so that I can get back to work?”

Unfortunately the technology is  very new and I couldn't buy an exoskeleton for personal use, they were still only being used in rehab and research centres.

So I left the hospital as soon as I could and headed for rehab where I continued to ask questions about exoskeletons. I asked as many people as I could for answers.

After much persistence I got the opportunity to use an exoskeleton.  I can tell you that the day I strapped on that wearable robotic suit and it stood me up and I walked across the room after doctors told me I would never walk again, well ... it blew my mind and opened my eyes to what was possible!

Chloe at BC Tech 2017 with Human in Motion Robotics' proof of concept

Chloë attends BC Tech 2017. Human in Motion Robotics' early proof of concept is displayed behind her. 

Still, the current exoskeletons on the market today are very limited in their abilities. They only move forward in rudimentary ways with no range of motion. They do not allow for a natural walking gait or for proper balance.

The current exoskeletons also require arm crutches and users must have an attendant at all times. So I could see the technology was amazing, but I began to think about how it could be made better.

That's when I met Drs. Siamak Arzanpour and Ed Park in their lab at Simon Fraser University where they were working on an idea for an advanced exoskeleton.

When I saw how they had solved the problems around range of motion and how that would allow for these devices to be used in everyday life, I just knew it had to be built.

Since that day we have worked together to establish Human In Motion Robotics, Inc.


Chloe wheels herself right into the advanced tech action at SFU
Chloë wheeling herself right into the advanced tech action at SFU.

Together, we've designed the next generation exoskeleton with full range of motion that will allow for complete independent use.

Our next generation exoskeleton will allow me, and millions of others suffering from mobility issues, to walk back into their lives with dignity and independence.

I believe the future of all human assisted motion will be found in wearable robotics. Whether you need help picking up a heavy box in a warehouse, mobility assistance as you age, or like me, you need help walking today.

In my collaboration with the two brilliant founders of Human in Motion Robotics, I apply my eye for fashion and background in design to bring style to our “Tesla” of exoskeletons.

It's my job to design a wearable robotic suit that will take you from the boardroom to a cocktail party;  a device that you feel mentally and physically confident in.

I like to say that Canada is known for building the robotic arm, now we will be known for building robotic legs.

Ultimately, this new collaboration is a combination of all I am today: my years of designing, my work to collaborate with others, my spinal cord injury, and my passion for life.

I've  never felt so confident in what I'm doing with my life than I do right now right now.

The Spirit Collection and my work with Indigenous artists to create a truly inclusive and collaborative Canadian fashion collection brings me great joy and continues to grow and be recognized.

I'm deeply  excited about the future of Chloë Angus Design.

Chloe's iconic Spirit Collection includes this Dragonfly Spirit Wrap with partial proceeds donated to help those suffering with Huntington Disease
Chloë's iconic Spirit Collection for Spring and Summer 2018 includes the very special Dragonfly Wrap in four colours with partial proceeds donated to those suffering with Huntington Disease.

Then there's my new venture, Human in Motion Robotics. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I was going to design robotic legs to help solve the issue of mobility in the world. But then again, I never dreamed I would be paralyzed either.

Chloe with the Human in Motion Robotics team
Chloë with Drs. Siamak Arzanpour and Ed Park and the Human in Motion Robotics crew display their alpha prototype, Arnie.

I can only say that great things are often achieved out of necessity, passion and perseverance. Wish me luck!

P.S. I will keep you posted.


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