Anna Behm was 15 years old, on a vacation to Grenada, Spain during her spring break in 2018. She had been watching the program “CNN Heroes” where she listened to numerous world changing ideas that other young people were working on. She was struck by the huge difference in her life, and the people she was watching on TV. “There I was, lying in a hotel bed, watching TV on a vacation, when so many other people my age were changing the world for the better. I thought, why aren’t I doing anything?” She then wracked her brain for ideas she could use to positively affect the world. One immediately struck out. Her father, Dr. David Behm, often used electromyography (EMG) to track electricity created from muscle activation in his research. “I thought, instead of analyzing EMG output, why haven’t we tried storing it?” Thus, Human Chargers was born.
WE Are Social Entrepreneurs RBC Business Case Challenge
When she came back from her vacation, her teacher told her of an opportunity with WE & RBC - the WE Are Social Entrepreneurs RBC Business Case Challenge. It was a week-long intensive program for 3 high school students across Canada, that would connect the winners with industry mentors and give their business ideas the opportunity to prosper. Anna applied, and was selected to attend. During this week, she collaborated with RBC and WE mentors to research the company’s marketing, project management, budgeting, timelines, & prototypes. At the end of the program, she presented her business pitch, and was awarded $1000 seed funding to aid her company research in the harnessing of muscle activation (electromyography).
Prototyping Pt. 1
After Anna came back from the WE Are Social Entrepreneurs RBC Business Case Challenge program, she sought out an electrical engineer to aid the prototyping process. Unfortunately, due to the small voltage output of the EMG signal, the amount of energy needed to amplify the signal was more than the amount produced, and the idea was made redundant. Human Chargers was then put on hold, as the storage of electricity from muscle activation was said to be unrealistic.
A Different Approach
2020/2021: Anna found another way to utilize EMG sensors in her first year of university. This idea includes the usage of machine learning to analyze the outputs from different muscles to benefit rehabilitation patients. She then researched this idea through the MUN Entrepreneurial Center as a work term student, and Myovine, her second start-up, was created. More information can be found at myovine.com.
After years of wondering how Human Chargers could be brought back to life, Anna began to think Human Chargers might only be a dream. But then, she attended HackFrostNL 2.0 with two other engineers including Omar Faruk . The prompt for the Hackathon, “Using technology, develop a solution that helps residents of a developing region solve one of their societal problems” fit perfectly with Human Charger’s ideals, and so the three students began their research on how EMG could still be utilized for electricity storage. They came up with a mixture of wearable technologies - EMG sensors, piezoelectric & thermoelectric materials, and luminescent solar concentrators. These new technologies allow one to harness not only the electricity from muscle activation, but also from movement, body heat, and light. Between all of these technologies, Human Charger’s new team are sure that clothing harnessing renewable electricity can be created, and made accessible to those in need.
Currently, Anna, Omar, and Joy are working on market validation, as well as seeking funding to create simulations and tangible prototypes for Human Charger’s technology.
As of February 2022
We Are Social Entrepreneurs RBC Business Case Challenge
Created new company based on EMG usage
Research on Myovine through work term with Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship
Mel Woodward Cup
Circuit design started
4 Month Plan
Finish the circuit simulation for any given amount of muscle signal
Start the printed circuit board (PCB) design for EMG
Obtain market research and validation
Conduct interviews and customer discovery
8 Month Plan
Obtain fully functioning PCB with Arduino programming
Troubleshoot and test such PCB
Begin research on other technologies
Have a blueprint of the placement of the sensors and power bank for optimum usage.
Look for seed investments for prototype & company creation
Have a network with professionals & potential customers
Creation of wait list
18 Month Plan
Finish the prototype for all technologies, functioning at 100% capacity
22 Month Plan
Obtain a rigorously tested functioning product
Begin manufacturing and sales
Have paying customers & gain feedback to improve products