Hypershell (极壳科技), a Shanghai-based startup building consumer-grade exoskeletons, recently confirmed the completion of a pre-Series A financing round valued at several million US dollars, tech media outlet 36kr reported today.
The round was led by Dencent Capital, followed by existing shareholder Miracle Plus, with Minerva Capital acting as the firm’s long-term exclusive financial advisor.
Proceeds raised from this round will be used for R&D, manufacturing and marketing of the company’s products.
Founded in 2021, Hypershell specializes in the design and development of consumer-grade exoskeletons, and had bagged several million yuan worth of angel funding from Miracle Plus prior to pre-Series A.
Hypershell has sold roughly 3,000 exoskeletons to some 2,600 supporters on Kickstarter since the device hit the crowdfunding platform on March 7. To date the company raised a sum in excess of US$1.2 million from the deal.
With its use originally restricted to small tech geek communities a few years ago, exoskeleton has come a long way. A large number of robotic startups have since ventured into this sector, mostly dedicated to applications in rehabilitation, logistics, senior care, manufacturing and more.
Several constraints combined to limit the penetration of exoskeletons. High hardware costs and inadequate algorithms contribute to an expensive price tag, with the relatively deep-pocketed healthcare service providers being its major clients for quite a while.
Nonetheless, with the growing sophistication of supply chains and a frenzy over outdoor sports, exoskeletons have steadily found wider use in an outdoor scenario.
That’s where Hypershell has carved a niche. It departs from rivals by targeting not industrial and therapeutic applications, but catering to outdoor industry practitioners, typically hunter and photographer.
By creating an in-house development platform and introducing consumer-grade electronic supply chains, Hypershell came up with what it calls a “lightweight, intelligent and inexpensive” exoskeleton and brought it to market.
Photo courtesy of Hypershell
In terms of hardware, Hypershell adopts a self-designed Omega structure that helps reduce the product’s weight to 1.8 kg, all the while slashing its cost to several hundred yuan.
Notably, cuts to the wearable robot’s costs and weight did not come at the expense of its performance. Hypershell said its gadget generates a 30kg of assistive force and 800 kWh of power.
It also comes with customized features for outdoor use such as a foldable design, meaning it is portable.
The exoskeleton is powered by a high-density battery pack and a kinetic energy recovery system. Its battery can last eight hours for users walking at 3 km per hour, according to the website of Hypershell.
With increasing maturity of China’s electric motor supply chain, costs have come down dramatically, setting the ground for Chinese robotics to go global and lead the country’s transition as a new “world factory,” said Ted, investment director at Dencent Capital.
“Man has a perennial desire to discover and seek adventure in an outdoor environment,” said Ted. “Hypershell has set sights on the outdoor scenario and with a fixation on overcoming human limits, it pushes physical boundaries for mankind to explore the unknown.”
Hypershell faces rivals such as ULS Robotics (傲鲨智能), whose exoskeleton suits have been featured in the popular Sci-Fi movie “The Wandering Earth II.”