Working with robots can make technicians pull their hair out. Bald may be the new sexy
, but Restoration Robotics is going against current fashion. Their Artas System
is helping men and women replace missing hair. The computer assisted system helps harvest hair follicles for hair transplant surgeons and their patients.
Ego and self image is driving the marketplace and investors are taking notice. Who is unaware of the explosion of erectile dysfunction drugs? Prescriptions, such as Propecia and Rogaine, are advertised as remedies for baldness. Artas, the baldness-fighting, robotic machine, is a new approach and has garnered $41 million in a series C round of financing for Restoration Robotics. The combination of investors comes from health care and technology sectors. Clarus Ventures
, Sutter Hill Ventures
, Alloy Ventures, and Interwest Partners hope their investment will bring the Artas System successfully to market. The robotic hair plucking system helps baldies achieve a new look at a dramatically reduced cost
The Artas System is comprised of an interactive, image-guided robotic arm, special imaging technologies, small dermal punches, and a computer interface operated under the guidance of a physician. Looking similar to a dentist's chair, the unit is positioned over a donor's scalp and plucks viable hair follicles from their head. The follicles are transplanted into the recipient's scalp manually. They just put the unit to the test on their first commercial patient. He is quoted as saying: "I'm incredibly happy with the experience. There was no discomfort and I was able to return to my daily activities quickly."
Although not as consequential as a C-section or appendectomy, don’t laugh; this is serious stuff. According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS), at least 35 million men in the United States
are affected by androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness). The FDA (Federal Drug Administration) has planted a kiss on Restoration Robotics' forehead so to speak by giving the follicular-unit-extraction system a 510K clearance, although some groups are questioning the validity of FDA medical device approvals
. Several medical advisors are working with the privately-held company, including David Berman, MD
of the Berman Skin Institute in Palo Alto, California and Jim Harris, MD
from Hair Sciences Center of Colorado in Greenwood Village.
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