#Power of Businesses l 2019-10-07
Now it’s time to take a look at a Korean business bringing about changes in the global economy with some new ideas.
The company we’re going to introduce today is CRETA, a medical equipment supplier that turns creative ideas into reality. Let’s hear from its CEO Lee Gyu-jin.
CRETA was founded in 2010 with the purpose of developing something that is necessary for medical care but has not been created yet. For that purpose, it is committed to experimenting with new ideas at labs and for clinical testing. The company has developed medical equipment that helps treat frozen shoulder and back pain.
CRETA is an acronym for Creating, Researching, Engineering, Teaching and Adopting. The company name represents its vision of creating something new, conducting relevant research, developing and manufacturing products, teaching how to use the new products and adopting them for medical use.
Some medical devices simply measure the patient’s conditions, while others are used to actually treat diseases. CRETA is interested in something between the two different purposes. That is to say, the company aims to develop medical equipment, whose measuring process itself can be helpful for treatment. In fact, the combination of measurement with treatment is a dream that Lee has long cherished since his school days.
My dream was to become a doctor, but I chose to major in electronic engineering due to family circumstances. While studying at Seoul National University, I happened to discover that the son of a missionary at my church was born deaf. I wondered how I could help in any way. For my graduation thesis, I visited a lab dedicated to treating congenital hearing loss. There, I learned that relevant research is associated with medical engineering. So I studied medical engineering in my graduate course and also worked at a venture firm set up by one of my professors. While working on my doctorate, I conducted research on medical equipment for frozen shoulder at Seoul National University Hospital. Based on my experience in making medical devices, I decided to start my own business as a medical equipment manufacturer.
Lee majored in medical engineering in the hopes of helping disabled people. While in graduate school, he studied the algorithm of instruments that measure blood pressure. As he kept studying, he found himself hoping to learn more. The manometer is a tool that shows invisible blood pressure, but it cannot lower blood pressure or stabilize blood sugar levels to improve the patient’s health. Lee wondered how to integrate measurement with treatment, especially in the case of frozen shoulder. While injecting medicine into a shoulder joint and gauging pressure, he discovered a particular trait that appeared when the joint burst. Using the trait, he found a way to measure pressure and treat frozen shoulder at the same time. He began to show interest in manufacturing medical devices and set up his own company, CRETA.
In 2018, the company developed its signature product, Balankey— a device to measure muscle strength and help users work out their muscles.
Children can’t handle chopsticks properly at first because they don’t know how to use the relevant muscles. In other words, the muscles are not yet fully connected to the nerves that run to the brain.
This state is described as the muscles being asleep. Older people often say, “You don’t know how to use your power.” Power here means muscles. By using chopsticks over and over again, children see the finger movements themselves and receive feedback. They learn to adjust muscle strength appropriately and can use the chopsticks well eventually. The process is explained as the muscles waking up.
Likewise, visual feedback motivates people to learn how to use their muscles. Our device, Balankey, shows the force generated by muscles visually so users can know how they use their force. Like learning how to use chopsticks, they can learn effective ways to use their muscle strength. Balankey gives users visual feedback, wakes their muscles up, and helps them exercise in a way to improve their power.
Balankey is a smart device that helps users measure and enhance their muscle strength. It looks like a tumbler or a Bluetooth speaker, and it is easy to use and carry. First, you download the Balankey application, connect it with the device and press it using the muscle you want to measure. The tool has a patented pressure sensor that gauges muscle strength in real time and displays it on the app. After measuring the maximum level of muscle strength, choose the exercise program. Based on the strength, the program automatically sets the level of exercise. The timer works only when you use force above the level so that you can exercise in a more effective way.
CRETA also developed a belt-like device designed to help users exercise to strengthen their back and thigh muscles. After a year-long test, the company released the product this month.
The new device has been launched through the Wadiz crowd-funding site. It received feedback from users for the past year, and it’s now time to go out in the market to reach consumers.
But it’s just the beginning. I have a dream of launching my products in the global market. I have two major markets in mind—America and Europe. In America, local people are greatly interested in exercising and assessing their physical information. So, I’m considering advancing into the home fitness equipment market in America. In Europe, on the other hand, there is high demand for workout programs tailored to senior citizens. A person in Switzerland proposed providing customized exercising services suited to the elderly as a test project. Discussions are underway to launch the services in the European market.
During the testing period, the CRETA device won the Hi Seoul Excellent Product Award, while users gave a positive response, saying that their muscles increased in a relatively short time to contribute to improving their health. Starting with Balankey, the company will continue to develop products designed to keep the balance of the body.
Balankey means “Balance is the key.” To be more specific, balance is the key to good health, and the process starts from the muscles. We’ll develop products to help strengthen muscles and maintain the balance of the body, and also create services that can better use the products. For many people, our medical devices will hopefully serve as the key to staying healthy and fit. Just as parents leave an inheritance to their children, we hope this valuable key will be passed down to future generations so that our products will be used and remembered for a long time.
CRETA provides people with the key to healthy living. We’re looking forward to the health benefits and innovations the company will bring.