Marsi Bionics: Gait Exoskeletons that Restore Children’s Quality of Life


Marsi Bionics is a tech-based startup that develops robotic aids for locomotion and gait rehabilitation.

Spun off from the Centre for Automation and Robotics (CAR) – a joint centre between the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Technical University of Madrid (UPM) – over 20 years of robot locomotion know-how has been transferred to this SME, founded in 2013.

60 million people in the world have lost the ability to walk, of which 17 million are children affected by a number of neurological diseases. While wheelchair-bound, they suffer from a number of physiological and psychological side effects. Their quality of life could be greatly improved if walking could be repaired, restored or rehabilitated.

Marsi Bionics’ solution is gait exoskeletons; robotic devices powered by motors that are attached to a person in order to assist in walking.

There are five companies in the market that develop wearable gait exoskeletons, all of whose products are created to assist the in-hospital gait training of adult paraplegics. They reproduce a pre-programmed gait pattern and require additional crutches or walkers to help the postural stability, and only cover 3 per cent of the potential market of wheelchair users. Buying one of these requires an investment between €70 and €130.

Marsi Bionics’ ATLAS2020 paediatric exoskeleton is the first and only wearable paediatric gait exoskeleton in the market.

The exoskeletons have internationally-patented intelligent compliant actuation technology, which mimics the biological muscle-tendon unit. This allows gait therapy to be personalised, adapting over time to each patient’s symptomatology and illness progression. This unique feature is what differentiates Marsi Bionics from other similar companies.

Marsi Bionics™ wearable exoskeletons are targeted to patients affected by neuromuscular diseases, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, and also active aging of the elderly. These constitute 95 per cent of the potential market. There are three models currently in the market:

  • ATLAS Pediatric Series: designed for children affected by NMDs, CP, etc. These are the first and only gait exoskeletons for children in the market
  • MBGold: designed for the elderly
  • MBActive Knee: active knee orthosis for rehabilitation from a stroke or polio

Social and economic impacts of the technology include:

  • Life expectancy of children affected by NMDs increased by 50 per cent
  • Quality of life improved for affected families
  • Reduction of personnel costs by an estimated €20,000 per year per family
  • A €32m reduction of healthcare costs for governments per country per year

Marsi Bionics exoskeletons have been already evaluated in clinical trials with success.

As IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, gets stuck into learning Arabic, the AI technology aims to transform business in the Middle East in everything from healthcare to banking

IBM's Watson supercomputer

We often read that Big Data heralds Big Promise. But it also comes with a Big Problem – how to turn all that information into something coherent and useful. Step forward artificial intelligence (AI) and, specifically, Watson.

Developed by tech giant IBM, Watson is a supercomputer that understands human language, crunches vast amounts of data, learns our preferences (rather than being constantly re-programmed) and offers up tailored analysis. Thanks to a joint venture between IBM and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala in July, Watson’s super brain is now also available in the Middle East.

“Experts are struggling to keep up with an overwhelming sea of information,” says Sunil Mahajan, from IBM Middle East & Africa’s analytics unit. “Watson can understand that information and bridge gaps in our knowledge, helping us to glean better insights.”

Watson is what IBM calls cloud-delivered cognitive computing. Using the same learning processes as humans do, Watson analyses mountains of information – from research studies to tweets – to become like a human expert in a particular area, only at “incredible scale” explains Mahajan.

The tie-up puts all this computing power at the service of the region’s industries, such as healthcare, retail, education, banking and finance. For example, when it comes to financial services Watson can help with sifting through data to help with investment choices, trading patterns or risk management, says Mahajan.

Still, it is in healthcare that IBM’s AI claims the most promise. By putting in an individual’s data, Watson could issue personalised health advice. The idea is that Watson helps humans make better decisions, by coming up with the probability of which cancer treatment is best for a particular patient, for example. Watson will also soon be able to ‘see’ images, adding to the treasure trove of information: “IBM plans to acquire [US-based] Merge [Healthcare Incorporated] in an effort to unlock the value of medical images to help physicians make better patient care decisions,” says Mahajan.

In the UAE, the computing technology will be housed at Injazat, Mubadala’s IT subsidiary. The name of the joint venture company is still to be decided. The venture hopes to take advantage of a public cloud-service market in MENA forecast to grow at around 17 per cent this year, according to IBM. There are currently more than 300 partners building Watson apps globally, says the firm.

The supercomputer shot to fame in 2011 when it appeared on an edition of the US television quiz show Jeopardy! where it beat two (human) trivia champions, understanding and answering questions in natural language.

Once Watson, named after former IBM president Thomas J Watson, gets up to speed in Arabic the prospects for its application in the region are significant.

“The Middle East is at an unprecedented turning point, with technology innovation fueling economic diversification and investment from overseas,” says Mounir Barakat, ‎executive director, information and communications technology, Mubadala. “Now is the right time to bring Watson to every decision maker keen on making informed decisions anywhere.”


Voters given access to video clips, detailed explanation about ideas of the projects, their mechanisms and future uses.

The Organizing Committee of the UAE Drones for Good Award, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good, launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, announced that the Voting Platform for the awards received more than 250,000 votes until today (January 27) from all around the world.

The Voting Platform, which was launched on the websites of both the awards ( and, recorded huge interaction from the audience as they voted to choose the best qualified teams to the semi-final stage in the National and International competitions of the awards which will take place from February 4 to 6, 2016, in Dubai Internet City.

This platform provides an opportunity for the public to choose the best among more than 40 teams from the UAE and around the world in many sectors. They can identify the best innovative projects participating in the awards and have access to video clips, detailed explanation about the main ideas, the mechanisms of the applications and their uses in the future, and how they can be employed to serve all segments of the society.

Saif Al Aleeli, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Museum of the Future Foundation and Coordinator General of the UAE Drones for Good Award and UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good, stressed the importance of public participation in the voting to display their interest in projects and innovations designed to promote the development process in the UAE and enhance the level of services provided to them in several sectors to increase their happiness and welfare in various fields.

The Organizing Committee urged the public to visit the online platform and engage in the voting process to identify the best projects that match their aspirations and needs in the future, and contribute to the development of services provided to them in vital sectors that directly affect their lives, such as education, health, and social services.

The closing date of the voting will be on Wednesday, February 3rd. The teams with top votes will be honoured irrespective of whether they are selected by the Judging Committees of the awards or not.

The Drones for Good Award aims to harness the technology of unmanned aircraft to improve the lives of people, whether in the UAE or anywhere in the world. It aims to design a legislative structure to provide services through advanced technology such as unmanned aircraft in the areas of serving humanity.

The International and National competitions of the UAE Drones for Good Award are divided into several categories: Environment, Education, Logistics, Transport, Construction and Infrastructure, Health, Civil Defence, Tourism, Social Services, Economic Development, and Humanitarian Aid.

The ‘UAE AI & Robotics Award for Good’ was launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, in February 2015, as one of the initiatives of International Council on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, which was formed in collaboration with the World Economic Forum during Global Agenda Council hosted by the UAE Government last year.

It offers a first of its kind global platform for innovation, focusing on the practical side of this technology in areas of much relevance to the society such as health, education and social services.


‘Dytective’ is a real solution that can change the opportunities of children with dyslexia from the beginning and addresses dyslexia before it becomes a problem.

Our dream is to make dyslexia detection easily available to everyone: detection and intervention for anyone, no matter your country or your income.

More than 10% of the population has dyslexia, a learning disorder that affects reading and writing but not general intelligence. Because the diagnosis of dyslexia is expensive and time-consuming, most children are diagnosed only after they have been failing in school for some time. As a result, intelligent and hard-working children fail, and they don’t know why. They are diagnosed too late for effective intervention, resulting in up to 40% of the school dropout rate being due to dyslexia.

We are changing this with a game designed to predict dyslexia at scale called ‘Dytective’. Children play the game for only 15 minutes. A machine-learning model recognizes patterns associated with dyslexia in how children play the game (their mouse movements, timing information, etc.). To make this feasible, activities in Dytective are constructed from:

  • Empirical, linguistic analysis of the errors that people with dyslexia make
  • Principles of language acquisition
  • Specific linguistic skills related to dyslexia.


Experiments with 243 children and adults (95 with diagnosed dyslexia) show that it can work. Our model currently achieves an 86% accuracy in deciding whether a child has dyslexia or not. Importantly, its false negative rate is only 12%, meaning that only 12% of the time does it falsely predict that a child with dyslexia does not have dyslexia. For those in high school, the prediction accuracy is more than 97%. With more training data (we are working with partner schools to have 10,000 participants by April 2016), we believe Dytective will be able to determine whether children have dyslexia or not with very high accuracy.

Currently, Dytective works for Spanish, and will soon be available online. We are working with the government of Spain to deploy it in schools at a large scale. We are developing Dytective for different languages, including English, German and Arabic. Our overall aim is to reach the whole world’s population.

CoiCAM team

Our spherical capsule will provide a better, safer, painless solution for endoscopy when treating colorectal cancer. This is because the spherical capsule is coated with a safe non-toxic material and extremely smooth surface to avoid irritations. The capsule also uses a non-toxic battery and an antenna with a suitable bandwidth for medical purposes.

The capsule overall consists of a Payload System, a Telemetry System, and a Vehicle Orientation System. The analysis of the images usually takes a long time for the medical doctors to reach a precise diagnosis. An external auto-analysis system of the image stream would excessively decrease the time needed for the examiner to make therapeutic decisions. In the future, it will be possible to have an automatic analytical software program to diagnose the patient’s condition without the presence of the medical doctor.



The world is now facing new kinds of wars, as in Iraq and Syria, where cities are the main battlefields, and thus new Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) and Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) clearance challenges arise. It is imperative not to forget that unprecedented amount of unexploded ordnance, mines and IEDs will continue to litter urban and rural areas long after any peace is brokered.

Digger Foundation, with its 18 years of existence and field experience, has already a world-renowned solution for clearing rural areas from mines: the DIGGER D-250 machine. However, no tool exists today to address the new challenge in urban areas, where Unexplodes Ordnances, from hand grenades to aviation bombs or IEDs are trapped under rubble, and deminers currently have to work by hand at great risk.

At Digger Foundation, we are specialised in high-technology and robotics equipment dedicated to humanitarian demining. It is our mission to address the situation in Iraq and Syria with new tools adapted to the task.

The first main challenge is to find explosives devices in rubbles. Dogs have been used for humanitarian demining for more than ten years with great success and no dog accident. Their ability to smell explosives has no technological equivalent at the moment. However, their range and coverage has always been limited because they must be kept on a leash, which is compulsory to ensure fully supervised coverage. This makes the survey particularly perilous and slow for the dog handler when walking among IED-infested rubble.

Once an explosive device has been identified in an area, the second main challenge is for the deminers to get access to the mine to neutralise it. If the IED is hidden in rubbles, these must be cleared before the deminer can get access to the mine or even identify it. Clearing rubble can be achieved with construction machines, but operating such heavy equipment potentially over explosives is very risky for the pilot.

The DOME system addresses these two main challenges through robotics. We equip dogs, dogs handlers and machine operators with bionic systems packed with sensors and visualisation devices, while we automate construction machines. Our system is unique and conceived, developed and manufactured by the Digger Foundation. We spent hours discussing with actors on the field, dog handlers and machine operators, to understand the challenges that they face, and confronting ideas to conceive this system. DOME empowers deminers and civil engineers to accomplish even the most challenging rubble clearance tasks while staying at a safe distance from any potential explosion.

DOME allows to finally get to work on rebuilding affected cities by providing a low-cost system easily adaptable to all existing local machines, and by providing an intuitive system that every team and every dog handler can adopt.