Iowa Startup MakuSafe develops wearable devices to improve workplace safety

MakuSafe Wearable

In mid-2015, after selling his software company, Gabriel Glynn found himself between startups. He was launching his next project, a podcast about the manufacturing industry. What he didn’t know at the time is that the podcast would eventually lead him to his next business, insurtech startup MākuSafe.

Glynn, who grew up in Iowa around the manufacturing industry, started interviewing the owners and managers of manufacturing plants for his podcast. One day, while touring, Glynn saw an employee file a claim against a company after losing his hearing. Glynn couldn’t believe the frustrations that accompanied an audit by the regulatory board.

“That was the first time that I discovered how facilities manage the environmental impact on workers. These facilities test things like lighting, air quality and sound, and they do it on an annual basis,” said Glynn.

He said that’s when he realized there was an enormous opportunity to turn that process into something that is viable.

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That idea became MākuSafe, a wearable communication device that captures everything from near-miss activity to quality assurance and LEAN reports. The still-in-development MākuSafe is a wearable sensor-equipped armband that tracks noise, temperature and movement to help spot accident sites and help prevent falls and catastrophes.

“Through the research, we found that more than 1,000 a day die in work accidents around the world. That’s 1,000 people a day who don’t go home from work and environmental factors can be a big part of that,” said Glynn. “In addition to that, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on claims that really could and should have been avoided.”

MakuSafe Wearable

The device also has a recording button that allows workers to push to instantly report near-miss incidents without having to leave the floor or use a cellphone.

MakuSafe recently received a patent, which should keep competitions away as it goes to market in 2019.

“This patent is pretty broad-based for what we’re doing,” Glynn said. “If somebody tried to do something similar to ours, we’d have the ability to take action against them.”

MākuSafe has been tested in several Iowa factories, including at Summit Products, an Altoona maker of metal and plastic RV accessories.

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“We have real-time data, we can serve as a conduit to deliver these types of resources to the end-user customer in a way that’s active instead of reactive,” said Glynn. “Really trying to bridge that gap is one of the things that’s unique about MākuSafe. We’re not just a hardware company trying to gather data on the environment, we’re really a data company trying to connect the dots between critical resources and the end-user customer and their needs.”

Glynn added that there’s one more thing driving MākuSafe.

“Ultimately, our goal is to send more people home from work every single day.”