October 31, 2016

SpynAlign is a device that helps people recover more quickly from brain injuries by providing postural feedback and measuring progress during rehabilitation therapy.

After a brain injury, many victims suffer from a lack of awareness of their body position and are therefore at higher risk of injury due to falls. SpynAlign provides audio and tactile feedback when the user starts to lean too far to one side.  SpynAlign is used in rehabilitation to encourage more frequent use of balance corrections, promote greater amount of time spent in a neutral/balanced position, give the user increased independence and provide a faster road to recovery.  

SpynAlign was an idea that started in the spring of 2015 at IdeaLab, a weekend event organized by the Simone Center that brings students together to work on problems proposed by the Rochester community. Kelly Schauf, a physical therapist from Rochester Regional Health, came to IdeaLab seeking a way to provide more effective and frequent postural feedback to patients who had suffered a stroke. Kelly’s problem was worked on by a multidisciplinary team of industrial designers and engineers, who proposed conceptual solutions to address Kelly’s need.     

After IdeaLab, project work was continued as part of a Design and Innovation class led by Professor Clark Hochgraf. Corey Pardee was part of this class and this is how he was introduced to SpynAlign. The class took the conceptual idea, made some modifications to better meet the needs of the users and improve functionality, and also incorporated the development of a functioning prototype.

The team worked directly with Industrial Design graduate students from RIT in order to put an effective, comfortable, physical design together. The multi-disciplinary teamwork of engineering students, industrial design students, and direct involvement of healthcare professionals has been one of the major reasons that SpynAlign has come so far.


As the idea became tangible, interest started to grow and the SpynAlign team was accepted to participate in the 2015 Saunders Summer StartUp program led by Dr. Richard DeMartino. The program was an intense business startup accelerator designed to help produce a marketable approach for each team’s idea/product. As an engineering student, enrolled in the summer program, Corey was shocked to see that the majority of work for a new product can often be in the business planning side. As expressed often throughout the program, a great product will not succeed without a good business plan. Activities through the summer included customer discovery, prototyping, business planning, and many many practice sales pitches with their lead innovation coach Dana Wolcott. The program concluded with an investor night where local investors came to hear each team’s idea and give feedback and advice on future plans.

The SpynAlign team presented their concept at Innovative Access Technology Competition in the fall of 2015, where it earned first prize! To see the article on the competition click here!

At Imagine RIT 2016, SpynAlign shared a booth with Rochester Regional Health and was able to demonstrate their device to numerous attendees with much positive feedback received. 

Recently, the SpynAlign device was redesigned to make it easier for therapists to use the device with their patients during therapy and get pertinent data in return. This new device is part of an initial trial at the Golisano Restorative Neurology and Rehabilitation Center that has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at Rochester Regional Health. Corey and the SpynAlign team are looking forward to learning from the results from this clinical testing and moving this device to commercialization.

The Simone Center is so proud of your accomplishments! Congratulations SpynAlign!

Stay tuned for next week's Innovation Spotlight Story on the Tiger Tank Semi-Finalists.