Meet Tech Lady Akanksha Vyas, CoFounder of a startup that makes 3D-printed medical braces and prosthetics

Interview by Breanne Thomas

Hi Akanksha! Can you tell us about your company, Fited, and what you do there?

Our mission at Fited is to make the most accurate, custom-fit medical braces and prosthetics globally accessible. I lead the engineering and design initiatives at Fited. I started the company with Erdem Ay in 2016, and as of this summer, we are testing our braces with patients.

We are creating a coherent digital solution for diagnosis, prescription, design, and manufacturing of these medical devices, and our first product is a Scoliosis brace. Basically, we are teaching computers to replicate the skills of the craftsmen who make these medical devices today, to ensure that the most accurate treatment is accessible anywhere in the world. 3D printing gives us the ability to create new designs that are more comfortable and just pretty.

We want to ensure that nobody has to experience the messy and traumatic plaster casting process used today. Not to mention the bulky and uncomfortable medical devices that would prevent anyone from living a normal life. We are building an app for early symptom screening and artificially intelligent 3D design (CAD) software. With 4 photos and an x-ray, we make accurate 3D printed Scoliosis brace unique to each patient and their medical condition.

Over the last year, I have built the core software platform at Fited. More recently, I have been collaborating with our designer, Michal, and the doctors on our medical board to create the 3D design definition for our medically corrective Scoliosis brace within our software. Over the last two years, I have learned 4 new programming languages, 3 new CAD tools, a host of learning techniques, and more than I ever thought I’d know about the spine. It is a whirlwind of an experience and I love it!

3D printing is such a broad space — what inspired you to specifically move into medical side of 3D printing?

It was quite an accident actually. I stumbled upon this space because I have a background in CAD software and computational design. I actually started my career as an intern at Autodesk Research. In 2012, I started working at a medical 3D printing company in New York City. I had (of course) heard and read a lot about 3D printing, but this was the first time I was truly exposed to what this technology was capable of.

From a technical perspective, 3D printing brings three main promises — mass-customization, new designs that are not possible with traditional manufacturing, and the ability to manufacture in new materials. The first two aspects of this really excite me, and both mass-customization and these new design techniques have tremendous applications in the medical space. These are the challenges that keep me awake at night. And honestly, the potential of a globally accessible treatment solution is huge driving force for me.

Where and how do you see Fited and this particular technology expanding in the future?

Before the industrial revolution, everything was custom. As a society, we realized that machines can do the same work faster and cheaper. The problem was that nothing was custom anymore, and the industry that suffered the most was medical devices. If clothes don’t fit you properly, you don’t look great. If a prosthetic or a medical device doesn’t fit you properly, it can significantly affect your anatomy.

Today, we are amidst a different revolution. We have the technology to teach machines how to create custom products — and that is exactly what we are doing at Fited. We are teaching machines to make products that uniquely fit you. And we believe that our technology will have applications way beyond medical devices, from fashion and automotive, to sports and many other industries.