Cutting your toenails is a routine often taken for granted by the able-bodied, but for the elderly or those with reduced mobility, it is a task that they are unable to perform independently.
It is this challenge that led Stony Brook Renaissance School of Medicine fourth-year student Joshua Zhu to invent the Soulo Nail Trimmer, an invention for which he was awarded a $50,000 prize as a winner of Fuzehub’s 2023 Innovation Challenge.
FuzeHub provides New York State manufacturers and technology companies with guided access to our extensive network of industry experts, programs and assets to solve productivity, commercialization, research and development issues, and other challenges to growth. The Innovation Challenge focused on technology development and commercialization across New York State.
Due to reduced mobility, seniors and disabled adults can have difficulty cutting their toenails independently. Many turn to a podiatrist to cut the nails, medical visits which are not always covered by insurance. Nail salons typically cost $50-100 per visit.
“Some adults are using off-the-shelf long handled mechanical nail clippers. However, they report that these products are poorly designed, ineffective, unreliable, and dangerous to use,” said Zhu.
The Soulo Nail Trimmer is a long-handled electric toenail trimmer that makes it easier for aging individuals to feel independent. The trimmer stands apart as a more affordable and accessible solution compared to visits to a podiatrist, nail salon, or relying on relatives.
“Unlike other long-handled toenail trimmers on the market, our product is electric and uses a safe filing mechanism,” said Zhu. “Ergonomically designed with high-quality materials, its patented design provides a refined user experience. To further differentiate our product, we plan to offer a subscription service for replacement filing tips, ensuring continuous ease of use without the need to shop for replacements.”
Zhu founded his company, Soulo, with his friend Jialin Ke. What began as an idea while undergraduates in college has now expanded to a focus on products for the aging population, and the award will provide funding to allow the company to improve the manufacturing process.
“It allows us to begin our manufacturing process by funding plastic injection molding and PCB manufacturing costs. The roadblock has always been getting the funding to go to manufacturing, and this award will fully go towards bringing this to market. Simply put, this allows us to bring our product to market,” said Zhu.
Soulo won first place at the first annual SUNY Long Island Pitch competition between Stony Brook University, SUNY Farmingdale, and SUNY Old Westbury in November 2021.
— Beth Squire